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Brazil Makes Grownup’s Computers for the Little Ones

Brazil's Syntax computer After becoming a hit in Brazil, Brazilian computer maker Syntax wants to take their business overseas. They make a line of equipment turned to children and use the image of two very famous cartoon characters: the Powerpuff Girls and Ben 10.

The computers were released at the end of last year, in Brazil, after the company had already developed research work into the new products.

"We noticed that most of the machines sold for use by kids were toys, not real computers. So we decided to assemble a real machine, with all the resources necessary to supply the infant public, which is having contact with information technology earlier and earlier," says the commercial director of Syntax, Ricardo Barcellos.

The choice of the characters was the next phase. The professionals studied children's taste on the web. They found over 600 communities for the Ben 10 character, a ten-year-old boy with magic powers who becomes 10 different super heroes and aliens, and around 1,200 communities for the Powerpuff Girls, a trio of infant heroines who always save the city they live in from attacks by monsters. Both are Cartoon Network characters.

Apart from the machinery personalized with the colors of the drawings and stickers of the characters, Syntax also personalized the Windows system. The company is certified by Microsoft and Intel. On the Brazilian market, according to Barcellos, the strategy was a success. In Brazil, each unit costs a minimum of 1,799 Brazilian reais (US$ 1,150).

Syntax was established as a software company in 1983, developing specific products. In the 1990s, the company changed hands. Three investors: Cláudio Dias, Alexandre Nunes and Roberto Aguiare purchased the company and started promoting structural changes. The first was to start producing computers. An industrial unit was established in the city of Ilhéus, and Syntax started seeking clients for its products.

Initially, due to competition, the company invested in the corporate and government sectors. The organization specialized in products and solutions for both sectors. It also bet on becoming an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer), producing equipment for other brands. "OEM sales came to represent as much as 50% of Syntax revenues," stated Barcellos.

In 2005, accompanying the Internet boom, growing on average 70% a year, the company entered the retail market, established a partnership with Magazine Luiza chain and also started talking to domestic consumers. "Nowadays, 40% of our clients are retail, 20% are corporate, 20% are OEM and 20% are government clients," stated Barcellos.

The foreign market was a natural route. "We produced equipment for company Bematech, which exported with their brand. We then thought: if they export our products, we can do the same," recalled Barcellos. Syntax went out into the market once again.

The research work took two years and bet on the Argentine market as a good opportunity. "Some 3 million units are sold per year," stated Barcellos. Talks evolved and Syntax has already found a partner to start exporting. Latin America, Mexico and Peru are the next destinations.

The company currently has capacity to produce 40,000 units a month, one computer each minute and a notebook every 1min30s, said Barcellos. In 2007, Syntax revenues were 65 million reais (US$ 41.6 million). This year, the estimate is for an increase of 50%. Construction of two new units outside the state of Bahia is also being studied.

Apart from licensed computers for children, the company has lines of notebooks and machines for household and corporate use, appropriate for the government and private sectors, and even servers. One of the most recent releases by the company, in July, was Minos, a mini PC.



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