Rhodin remarked how 2006 had been IBM Lotus best year ever and marked two consecutive years of double-digit growth. Indeed, he said, Lotus is starting to outgrow its place in the physical world so it is starting up Lotusphere in the cyber-world of Second Life on Jan. 23. Rhodin then introduced former astronaut and moon walker Neil Armstrong, who spoke of his time as a test pilot and astronaut and his mission to place a mirror on the moon for scientific research.Later, Rhodin said, "Everything we do at Lotus is not pure rocket science. We need to make everything approachable and easy to use for its intended audience; thats what were spending the most time on these days."
Lotus also announced Sametime 7.5.1, a new version of the companys instant messaging and collaboration software with new support for real-time point-to-point video, tabbed chat, compatibility with Microsoft applications, and support for Linux servers and Macintosh clients, IBM said.
In addition, Lotus announced that Notes and Domino 8 will enter public beta in February.
Click here to read more about Lotus push to get Notes and Domino 8 into public beta.
Some observers said IBMs moves put the company more in competition with Microsoft. Indeed, some of the technology and positioning of Lotus Connections could be viewed as competitive with Microsoft offerings such as Windows Live Spaces, Microsofts blogging and social networking software.
Elisa Graceffo, group product manager for collaboration and portals at Microsoft, said of IBMs Lotus Connections announcement: "While its difficult to comment on something weve only seen screen shots of, and is yet to be delivered, I can tell you that Microsofts approach is to deliver social networking functionality in the products customers are already using rather than foist an additional suite of tools on them. What weve heard loud and clear from customers is that when its different from the tools they already use, it just doesnt get used."
IBM countered that its offerings are based on open, standard components, among other differences with Microsofts offerings.
"Were going to measure ourselves, very simply, by end-user satisfaction," Rhodin said.
Moreover, Rhodin said IBMs new technology will better enable teams to work together, even virtual teams. "Perhaps even rendering the concept of the office obsolete," he said. "I like the sound of that: Office obsolete.
"Lotus has long understood the value of collaboration, and today its our core," he said.
Check out eWEEK.coms for more on IM and other collaboration technologies.
"Good ideas and good design stand the test of time," Armstrong said.