IBM has a new ally in its fight with Microsoft over share in the office productivity software market.
Big Blue officials the week of Jan. 21 will unveil an e-mail package for Lotus Notes that runs on Apple's iPod Touch music player and the smash hit iPhone, which just surpassed 3 million units sold.
IBM will formally announce the software at its Lotusphere conference in Orlando, Fla., which starts Jan. 21, according to multiple news sources.
The software will be free for users who already have a Lotus Web-access license and will start at $39 per year for new users, according to a Jan. 16 report in the Associated Press.
One good turn deserves another. IBM will release Lotus Notes and its Lotus Symphony productivity package, a free alternative to the documents and other software in Microsoft Office, for Apple's Macintosh computers.
IBM officials declined to comment on the partnership, but Burton Group analyst Karen Hobert said such an agreement makes good business sense for IBM and Apple, which get the chance to stick it to Microsoft in the office productivity software market.
IBM has been battling Microsoft for years, but has hardly been able to budge the software giant from its 90 percent-plus Office software market share. Joining with Apple gives Big Blue another weapon in its arsenal.
Putting Lotus Notes on the iPhone could also help Apple validate the popular device as a valuable choice for the mobile knowledge worker.
Hobert said it could be argued whether the iPhone is a business-enabled device, but she said it is definitely a gadget people use for e-mail, SMS (short message service) and collecting information.
For Apple, adding Lotus Notes could help the company in its own battle versus Research in Motion's Blackberry line and gadgets-based Microsoft's Windows Mobile.
"If you look at the mobile phone market, especially smartphones for business, you've got Blackberry, Windows Mobile and the iPhone," Hobert told eWEEK. "The big news is that IBM is getting e-mail out to all of the leading devices in the U.S."
Meanwhile, IBM Jan. 18 made Lotus Symphony, which to date has been downloaded for use in English by more than 400,000 people at work and at home, available in 24 languages worldwide.
Symphony is now available in: Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Indonesia, Poland, China, the Russian Federation, Belgium, Finland, Sweden, Korea, Denmark and Taiwan.