IBM Jan. 18 used its Lotusphere 2010 conference as the launching pad for several mobile-related announcements, including the first applications for Apple's iPhone and Google's Android platforms and social networking apps on RIM-based smartphones.
Big Blue today released Lotus Notes Traveler Companion, its first application for the Apple iPhone App Store. Companion is a free plug-in that lets iPhone users read their encrypted Lotus Notes e-mail.
The AppShopper Web site describes Companion as such:
"If you want a mobile alternative to reading Domino-encrypted mail on your laptop, then this is the application for you. Encrypted mail will appear in your inbox with only a unique, secure link for the Companion application. After entering your Lotus Notes Traveler password, the mail will be displayed on your iPhone or iPod Touch, and then upon exit will leave no decrypted mail on the device -- ensuring the security of your most sensitive corporate data.
Ed Brill, IBM's director of product management for Lotus software, said Companion requires a fixpack to Traveler 8.5.1, which includes basic calendar workflow on the iPhone to let users accept and decline meetings etc.
IBM later this year will also begin offering a Lotus Notes Traveler client for Android, beginning with Google's Nexus One device, Brill said. More details on this app will be available later.
IBM will also add support for the Notes Traveler server component on Linux, a mobile installer that resolves issues with different Notes/Domino and device version management, and Notes Traveler for IBM Lotus Foundations.
"Mobile is not an ancillary plot anymore," Alistair Rennie, IBM's new general manager for Lotus, said during a question and answer session with the press today. "It has pivoted to a fundamental way people will work."
Indeed, many businesses are looking at the iPhone and Android-based devices such as the Nexus One, Motorola Droid and myTouch 3G as enterprise devices. However, it may take a few years before the iPhone and Android platforms grab the enterprise credibility cultivated by Research in Motion, maker of the Blackberry mobile devices.
J.Gold Associates' founding analyst Jack Gold said many enterprise users are getting push back from IT departments who are leery of the use of iPhones to handle sensitive corporate data and communications.
Gold wonders whether users will find a way around the iPhone ban in the workplace, forcing IT departments to embrace Apple's platform.
He expects users will force iPhone support in enterprises by using business applications such as ERP and CRM. Though, unlike with RIM's platform, there are few enterprise-class iPhone apps, such as IBM's new Lotus Notes Traveler Companion, from which to choose.
Strong enterprise pedigree is one of the main reasons IBM continues to deepen its relationship with RIM, which has over a decade of enterprise mobility under its belt.
One year after RIM created a new BlackBerry client for IBM's Lotus Sametime instant messaging application, RIM said it would sell BlackBerry Client for IBM Lotus Quickr and a new version of the BlackBerry Client for IBM Lotus Connections.
Lotus Connections is IBM's social software to allow employees to connect with their colleagues, while Lotus Quickr is IBM's team collaboration app. RIM also said it was licensing Connections for use among its thousands of employees.