Notes on the move a non-starter for Lotus?

Lotus stakes its reputation on mobile devices...

Lotus stakes its reputation on mobile devices...

Lotus has commenced its assault on the European mobile market with the release of Mobile Notes. The cut down version of its PC-based parent makes its first appearance today on the Palm Pilot. Support for Microsoft's Pocket PC-based devices will follow in September. Jim Moffat, product marketing manager at Lotus, told silicon.com: "Lotus has never been so active in the mobile world. We have done a lot of development in the US but this is a really big push for us into Europe." The company is also working with Nokia to provide support on its Epoc-based 9210 device, although this is not expected to appear until the end of the year. Ericsson users are also facing a wait as the Swedish company has yet to release its Epoc handset. Andrew Thomas, senior technology advocate at Lotus, said: "The market is lacking Epoc devices at the moment to use these sort of tools. Only at the end of last year did we see devices with keyboards or pens. This year we are expecting a lot of newer devices which should make it easy to access these applications." But Matthew Norden, research director at Forrester, was unconvinced. He said: "Epoc as an operating system on millions of devices has been coming in the next quarter, every quarter for the past two years. I'm not saying it is dead in the water but it is certainly treading water." Lotus is also hoping that GPRS will make a difference in encouraging market adoption. WAP has failed to stimulate the mobile data market, but Lotus executives expect GPRS to make mobile data more palatable to procurement managers. Thomas said: "GPRS is only just coming out and it offers companies a real alternative to WAP. Before this, organisations didn't look at WAP as it was difficult to budget for. One month an employee might have a low phone bill, but the next it could be high if lots of WAP calls were made. GPRS offers fixed costs and that is attractive." Lotus will have big challenge to make its mobile strategy work, in the face of falling demand from users. Forrester's Norden's final analysis questioned the existence of a market for Mobile Notes. "It's little niche markets that use this technology, not really mainstream users. If you are a hardcore Notes shop like PwC then yes, you'll use it. But if you are Ford and only use it for email then you won't bother."