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Lotus goes mobile, integrates Outlook

Company still leads in messaging

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Judging from the sold-out Lotusphere meeting in Orlando, Lotus seems to have regained some of the momentum it's been lacking in recent months. The announcement of Lotus Mobile Notes for handheld and wireless devices was somewhat overdue, and although Mobile Services for Domino is shipping, and Mobile Notes access to it is slated for Q1. At very long last, proper calendar printing from Notes is included in the latest release. In Q4, Lotus added 8.5 million new Notes users, to bring the total to 56 million. There were 22 million new users in 1999. According to IDC, Lotus has 41 per cent of the messaging market, Microsoft 34 per cent, and Novell 18 per cent at the end of 1999. It was both a little surprising yet understandable that Lotus should have decided to offer MS Outlook as an alternative client for Domino Server. Jeff Papows said that "we have not conceded the client market here, not one inch" but credited Outlook as being "a good product". These statements are of course probably included in the text of the legal agreement between Lotus and Microsoft as compulsory mutual-respect mantras. The guiding hand of IBM is also evident. Papows hinted that Lotus expects to pick up a decent number of Office users for Domino, although some users will no doubt move away. IBM continues its totally agnostic role, looking to the make money wherever it can, whether from software, hardware or services. No details have been given so far about the deal over Outlook, although Jeff Papows (who does not depart until the end of the month), said that it had been "hard work" to arrive at the deal, and that it was based on "mutual respect". The newly-announced i-Notes will integrate the browser with Outlook for PCs not using Notes. Lotus describes this as offering increased capabilities, rather than backing down, but it's a matter of semantics. Perhaps surprisingly, Lotus showed some voice command technology that it has developed, but the demo in Orlando did not work very well. Instant translation is also being offered. Papows admitted that Lotus had been slow in the ASP market, but had woken up to the opportunity. The venerable cc: Mail will be supported for another year, but is likely to be retired next year. Lotus also promises to introduce a new and simpler pricing model, so that customers "don't have to be quite the rocket scientist they have had to be in the past". For the record, Papows did not claim that he had been a rocket scientist. ®

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