IBM pledged to let its social networking software, instant messaging and other Lotus applications run on Apple’s iPhone and forthcoming iPad tablet computer, an IBM executive said at Macworld in San Francisco Feb. 11.
IBM Lotus General Manager Alistair Rennie said that IBM’s Lotus Connections social networking suite, Lotus Sametime instant messaging and Lotus Quickr team collaboration suite will be available for the iPhone, iPod Touch and computers running Apple’s Mac operating system.
Lotus Symphony 3.0, which launched Feb. 4 as IBM’s latest version of free word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation apps, will also work with the Mac platfom.
IBM also made a vague commitment to build Lotus apps for the iPad, noting in a statement:
“IBM’s expanded support for the iPhone will also make its social and collaboration software available on the newly debuted iPad. This expansion on Apple devices supports IBM’s strategy to extend its software footprint across all types of business and consumer devices, increasing its usefulness and appeal to companies.”
It is likely all of the Lotus apps will likely be ported for the iPad, which is expected to run an OS variant of the iPhone when it hits shelves next month. All of these olive branches to Apple platforms come more than a year after IBM released Lotus Notes 8.5 for Mac OS X.
That IBM, which enjoys most of its success selling software for Microsoft Windows computers and even Linux machines, would increasingly support Apple platforms should no longer be a surprise.
As IBM noted: “With the continuing convergence of the business and personal worlds, people today are more likely to use personal devices to stay connected with business and vice versa.”
However, it is typically the businesses who have the final say what machines their employees use, particularly where proprietary corporate data is a consideration.
While enterprises eschewed Apple computers for years in favor of lower cost Windows machines, giants such as Google and other companies have been offering their employees their choice of computers when they work. Businesses are acknowledging that employees are more comfortable using Macs instead of PCs because that is the machine they grew up using at home or in school.
Indeed, David Meyer vice president of emerging technologies for SAP, told eWEEK recently that SAP let him use a Mac computer, though he admitted he had to fight to use it.
Sometimes, this extends to the mobile sphere, with some companies letting employees put aside their corporate-issued RIM Blackberry device for the pleasurable experience of using the iPhone.
IBM has been aggressive in beefing up its iPhone support. At Lotusphere 2010 Jan. 18, the company 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.
That security bump came more than a year after IBM offered iNotes ultralite, a free Web application that lets corporate workers access their Lotus Notes e-mail, calendar and contacts lists through the Safari browser on Apple’s iPhone.
So IBM, which also pledged to support smartphones based on Google’s Android OS, clearly understands the value of giving enterprise customers entree to consumer devices.