IBM Mashes It Up with RIM at Lotusphere

IBM will demonstrate Lotus Mashups and an application that lets users access Lotus Connections social software from RIM's BlackBerry.

ORLANDO, Fla.-IBM plans to announce commercial mashup software and a version of its Lotus Connections software for Research In Motion's popular BlackBerry smart phones, according to a company press statement obtained by eWEEK.

Jeff Schick, vice president for social computing software at IBM, will announce the Lotus Mashups and BlackBerry Client for Lotus Connections during a press briefing at Lotusphere here Jan. 23.

IBM Lotus Mashups aim to give the not-so-tech-savvy user base a development tool that will let users combine, or "mash up" various software feeds and lightweight applications such as widgets to build more valuable applications.

Mashups includes a Web browser-based tool for mashup assembly, a utility for the creation of enterprise widgets, some out of-the-box widgets, and a widget and mashup catalog.

An IBM spokesperson told eWEEK Lotus Mashups will be available in the first half of 2008. Pricing has yet to be determined for this software.

The creation of Mashups will likely mean the end for IBM's QEDWiki tool, which users downloaded for free from IBM's AlphaWorks developer Web site to experiment with mashup making. Mashups also opens a new avenue of competition with Microsoft, which offers Popfly, a mashup tool with sophisticated graphics.

IBM officials on Jan. 23 will also preview BlackBerry Client for IBM Lotus Connections, an application that runs natively on BlackBerry devices to let mobile users access Lotus Connections, a suite of blog, profile and activity tools that make it easier for business users to work on projects together.

Industry experts predict the future of social networks is tethered to users' ability to be able to access such applications from their mobile devices. With BlackBerrys easily the preferred handheld computing tool for mobile corporate users, the potential footprint for Lotus Connections on mobile gadgets is significant.

The software, which is expected to be available as a free download later this year, lets users find internal subject matter experts and access Dogear, IBM's bookmarking application for creating tag clouds of useful keywords.

Along those lines, IBM is also expected to announce the second incarnation of Lotus Connections in the first half of 2008.

Among the new features in version 2.0 will be a new home page based on Lotus mashup technology, which will allow users to aggregate and render social data from Lotus Connections the way they desire to view it.

To make Connections more social with other networks, customers will also be able to create widgets that link information to other social networks such as Yahoo or LinkedIn. The community utility in Lotus Connections 2.0 will also include discussion forums and be able to link to wiki services from IBM's Lotus Quickr, SocialText and Atlassian.