IBM Drops Lotus Brand, Takes Notes and Domino Forward

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2012-11-17 Print this article Print

IBM kept the Lotus brand intact for more than a decade as it sold loads of Lotus software to thousands of customers. And its annual Lotusphere user conferences have been reputable, both for their ability to impart information and highlight new technologies in the pipeline as well as for the opportunity for thousands of users with like minds, solutions and problems to get together and party.

Brill said IBM will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Lotusphere next year; however, it will be as part of IBM Connect 2013.

In its description of the Connect 2013 conference, which will run Jan. 27 through 31 in Orlando, Fla., IBM said:

In January 2013, we're joining two 'places'—long-standing Lotusphere and last year's Connect conferences—and making them one.

Why the name change? The conference has a new name to reflect an expanded focus, the broader IBM social business story. The technical content for which Lotusphere is known is still predominately featured through hundreds of deep-dive technology-enablement sessions for all technical roles and, in fact, is called the Lotusphere program within IBM Connect.

IBM Connect 2013. Familiar, yet with a whole new twist. What many of you have looked forward to for the past 19 years and what many of you will look forward to for at least the next 19—Lotusphere with a new name that reflects the broader story of IBM's market leadership in the social business arena.

"As a brand, Lotus probably has more historical significance today than it does market impact," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. "So the decision to place the products within IBM Collaboration Solutions does two things: 1) reflects a core value—collaboration—that the company has been emphasizing for the past five years or so; and 2) firmly attaches them to IBM—which is number two on Interbrand's 2012 list of best-recognized global brands—just behind number one Coca-Cola. Overall, I wouldn't read too much into this though it does highlight the essentially transitory nature of most commercial products, as well as how notable it is for a brand to become and remain dominant for years or even decades as IBM has done."

Amy Wohl, editor of Amy D. Wohl's Opinions and another longtime IBM watcher, was also nostalgic. "When IBM acquired Lotus in 1995—I can't believe that's 17-plus years ago because I remember the day—they made a decision to continue to use the brand name because Lotus, in its space, had quite a bit of brand value for both PC software and collaboration," Wohl said. "Since then, IBM has pretty routinely [more than 50 acquisitions later] moved acquired products under the IBM brand, in their various product families [WebSphere, Tivoli, Rational, Information-on-Demand, and so forth].

"Lotus [like other IBM brands] has routinely been incorporating pieces of IBM technology and code and contributing technology to the IBM portfolio. So it's certainly an important moment for Lotus, but not one that was unanticipated, I think. Today, IBM is the stronger brand, and Lotus is part of a large and strong IBM software portfolio. The decision makes sense," Wohl said.


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