RealTime IT News

Gateway Aims for Latino Appeal with quepasa.com Investment

Hoping to woo the U.S. Latino market, Gateway Inc. Friday took a stake in portal quepasa.com.

In the deal, Gateway (GTW) will put $10 million into quepasa.com (PASA) for a 7.6 percent stake in the Spanish-language portal. The two companies will launch joint marketing campaigns and promote computer and Internet adaptation in U.S. Hispanic communities.

Quepasa.com said that the new funds will go towards its education and communities programs, including a project to distribute Gateway PCs with Spanish-language tech support and Net access. Gateway will also be the exclusive PC seller on the quepasa.com network, with revenue sharing of the joint sales, and will sponsor parts of the site.

"Gateway made a very public commitment to our community when it announced its Spanish-language initiative in September 1999 and now the company is further expanding that commitment by investing in the only publicly traded online community that solely serves the US Latino community and the only online community to do so in both English and Spanish," said Gary L. Trujillo, quepasa.com's chairman and chief executive officer.

Gateway, which claims to be the top U.S. consumer PC seller, began operations of its Spanish-language PC ordering, customer service and tech support last October.

Gateway pointed to research indicating that there are 13 million Hispanic households in the U.S., with Hispanics projected to become the second-largest minority group in the U.S. by the year 2010.

The PC-portal pair is not the first to take aim at the Spanish-language market, though its focus on the U.S. section is more specific than other partnerships. StarMedia, which focuses on both the U.S. Hispanic and Latin American markets, has similar deals with Compaq for Latin America and a general e-commerce partnership with Dell.

Earlier this year, Spanish-language etailer Español.com and Latino-focused research firm Research & Research released a controversial survey that found high levels of language "indifference" or bilingualism among Hispanics. According to the survey results, most of the 2,000 survey respondents chose English over Spanish. Forty-one percent said they prefer English Web sites; only 8 percent of those surveyed said they prefer Spanish. However, 51 percent also indicated they are "indifferent" or bilingual, with no clear language preference when buying products or surfing the Internet.

However, the survey did find that 51 percent of users were more likely to patronize a Spanish e-commerce alternative. The survey also found that 61 percent of U.S. Hispanics online have made a purchase in the last year, and 74 percent of those purchasers connect to the Internet daily.