IBM: LotusLive paying subscribers go from 0 to 18 million in a year

IBM has 18 million paying client seats for its LotusLive cloud services, a jump that will result in a few double takes among IT industry watchers.

IBM has 18 million paying client seats for its LotusLive cloud services, a jump that will result in a few double takes among IT industry watchers.

That LotusLive tally at the beginning of the year was nil so the growth is stunning. I double checked with IBM to make sure that those 18 million client seats were actually paying with a price of more than zero. I was told there are no asterisks here.

Now IBM isn't forking over revenue data on LotusLive cloud services. Customers pay anywhere from $3 a month to $79 a month depending on the service. IBM recently launched iNotes to go after Gmail in the enterprise, but its range of services competes with everything from Microsoft Office to Cisco's WebEx.

Here's the menu of LotusLive services:

That menu yields some interesting math. Assuming all 18 million seats are paying $3 a month LotusLive could be bringing in revenue of $648 million a year. If there's a higher blended price IBM's cloud services could dwarf the annual revenue of Salesforce.com.

Word of IBM's 18 million LotusLive client seats comes as the company rolls out a cloud services laboratory in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Cloud Computing Laboratory is one of 10 cloud computing labs operated by IBM. The Hong Kong outpost will focus on Web 2.0, cloud mail and collaboration. IBM also opened a data center in South Korea with plans for another in New Zealand.

In January, IBM acquired the messaging assets of Outblaze Limited, which focused on email technology and messaging. Outblaze combined with the Hong Kong lab gives IBM a lot of firepower focused on the cloud.

Also: IBM targets Google Apps for business, undercuts pricing and touts reliability