Mexico has a rich, long tech history that is too detailed and vast to detail fully. But in order to highlight just a few of the advances that have taken place in recent decades, we wanted to offer a look at some milestones that are still having a lasting impact today.
From the major companies making a splash and ongoing telecom reform to the wider adoption of technology and the booming startup scene, the following list includes a few notable moments in Mexico technology. These are but a few of the steps that the nation has taken on its digital journey.
IBM Leads a Tech Wave in Guadalajara
IBM has a history in Mexico dating back to at least 1927, but it really ramped up its operations in 1975 when “a new office products division manufacturing plant begins operations in Guadalajara, Mexico, and a scientific center is established in Mexico City.”
Mexico has long been a manufacturing powerhouse, but most associate nation with only automobiles or industrial products. But companies like IBM, HP, Intel, Foxconn, Kodak others illustrate just how far back this goes. And it certainly didn’t stop there. Later, everyone from giants like Orace and digital-native firms like Wizeline began expanding into the city, showing that Guadalajara is an ideal location to blend the old and new.
The Telecommunications Act
The administration of President Carlos Salinas de Gortari enacted telecom reforms in 1990 the started with privatizing Telmex. This led to later market liberalization and an end to Telmex’s sole control of the long distance market, along with the establishment of a new regulator and foreign competition.
A 2015 report by Pricewaterhouse Coopers highlighted this landmark step forward for the industry. “One of the first milestones in the telecom industry in Mexico was in 1996 when an independent regulator was established, followed by the opening of competition of long-distance market in 1997 and local services in 1998,” states the report.
Without the reforms of the 1990s, today’s evolution would not be possible. Mexico is becoming one of the most digitally nations in the Western Hemisphere, and the groundwork for this growth was laid more than a quarter century ago.
Pacto Por Mexico
One his first day in office, on December 1, President Enrique Peña Nieto signed the “Pacto Por Mexico” into law. Among its many initiatives — notably energy and education reform — were spurring improved competition and thus overall service of Mexico’s network infrastructure. The telecom sector was the focus of many specific changes to meet this goal.
“With an eye on improving competition in this field, more licenses will be given for non-cable television channels,” wrote the Americas Society. “Dominant telephony firms will be regulated so as to ensure greater competition. This will be done through an expansion of the Federal Competitiveness Commission’s capacities, including an improved ability to level sanctions against dominant market players.”
Mexico Surpasses 25 Million Smartphone Users
Though Brazil is the larger nation, Mexico has the higher smartphone penetration rate. In fact, as of 2013, it had the best rate in the whole region, beating out Brazil (23% penetration), Argentina (20%), Chile (19%), and Peru (17%), according to eMarketer. In total, it eclipsed 25 million smartphone users in 2013. And the company’s growth projections have it exceeding 50 million this year.
With the ongoing network expansion and the average citizen now having both access to the internet and new-age devices, the marketplace will only grow further. Today’s generation lives on the internet and their upbringing and experience will only lead to greater entrepreneurship and innovation in Mexico.
First Apple Planned to Open in Mexico
In January, Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed a rumor that the company’s first Apple Store would indeed be coming to Mexico. Though the timeline has not yet been revealed, the company is already accepting job applications for its forthcoming location in Centro Santa Fe mall in the capital.
“We are very excited to begin the process of hiring the team that will open our first Apple Store in Mexico, a country rich in art, culture and history,” said Apple in a statement. “We are excited to provide our valued customers in Mexico City service, training and entertainment that Apple customers around the world love.”
The opening of the Apple Store highlights the final evolution of the nation. In a few decades, Mexico has gone from a place that manufactures tech products to one that provides tech services to one that is a major marketplace for technology consumption. Mexico’s 120 million people are still producing equipment and leading the region in software development. And such business will only continue to boom as the middle class in the domestic market increasingly becomes the end users of these products and services.