IBM is taking its collaboration and social networking software to Apple's iPhone and Mac platform in a move to promote "business-grade" tools that will also appeal to consumers.
Alistair Rennie, IBM Lotus general manager, said in an interview:
One of the trends our customers are emphatic about is that things they see happening in the consumer space create a set of expectations among employees on how they should collaborate in the workplace. Our approach is to help customers with enterprise grade collaboration technology and make available on all platforms employees want that they use in personal lives.
There are multiple levels to IBM's move. On one hand, Big Blue is playing with the consumerization of IT theme. The other theme: By bringing software to hot devices---Android, BlackBerry and iPhone---IBM is crafting a Trojan horse strategy to appeal to consumers as Google increasingly targets businesses. Actually, IBM is really focusing more on the prosumer.
It remains to be seen how IBM's consumer foray plays out, but it's fun to watch. It's also safe to say that IBM's move to the Apple platform is a precursor to iPad applications. Apple's iPad is initially billed as a consumer device, but CIOs note that there are a lot of potential business uses.
Big Blue's announcement is timed for the Macworld confab in San Francisco this week. Among the key product news:
The plan for IBM to use the iPhone platform, which is winding its way into the enterprise, to better connect to its Lotus customers. In some respects, all IBM is doing is taking the mobile applications commonly found on the BlackBerry and taking it to the iPhone.