NeXT South of the Border

NeXT is the second or third largest selling workstation in Mexico, a potentially lucrative foreign market. "I'm spending a lot of time in Mexico because I see a lot of opportunity," says NeXT's Pliny Gale. "My guess is we've got a 20 percent share of workstations in Mexico."

Mexico's 1200 workstations may seem a pittance, but sales to Mexico often precede sales to the rest of Latin America, a trend that may increase if the U.S.-Mexican free trade agreement falls into place.

And ITESM isn't the only one buying. Novedades Editores, a major newspaper in Mexico City, uses 26 NeXTstations for page layout, advertising composition, and color processing of photos. There have also been small sales to three public universities in Mexico City, a market all by itself with more than 300,000 students.

This summer, NeXT plans to bring on valued added dealers and resellers in Mexico City, Monterrey, and Guadalajara. Target lists of companies have been developed in financial services, publishing, and higher education. Pemex, the national oil company, is also a large potential customer.

Gale thinks education will be essential for demonstrating that the NeXT's ease of custom development offers the possibility of software made in Mexico. "To be successful I think we'll need to hold courses like the developer's class in Mexico so they don't have to go to the United States," he says.

Though ITESM does not promote specific machines, the prestigious university is laying the groundwork for NeXT by advocating open systems sometimes with difficulty. "We have been struggling with vendors," says ITESM's Flores, who also heads Monterrey's most prestigious association of computer professionals. "They are still with proprietary systems."

Flores feels sure, though, that "open systems will catch up here." And if the past is any proof, Mexican industry may not be far behind.