It's the morning after IBM's Lotus Collaboration Summit, at which IBM announced that the reincarnation of an ODF-compliant Lotus Symphony is integrated into Notes 8 -- as well as being offered as a free download. The media coverage conveys that IBM is trying to win over the Microsoft Office market, and the half-page IBM ad in yesterday's New York Times about the free Symphony download appears to support the "IBM takes on Microsoft Office" mindset. But, I don't believe that -- not for a moment.
The marketing blitz is a reincarnation of the all too familiar Notes/Domino versus Outlook/Exchange wars for enterprise market share.
- IBM Notes/Domino 8.0 and Microsoft Outlook/Exchange 2007 are both recent, major releases. Implementing a major release costs major dollars and is the juncture at which enterprise IT departments reevaluate prior decisions. Particularly in the messaging space, a frenzy (across all messaging vendors) to grab Microsoft Outlook/Exchange market share erupts.
- Microsoft Office owns approximately 90 percent of the enterprise desktop-productivity-suite market. IBM is not native enough to think that they will displace Microsoft from its desktop stronghold.
- However, in the enterprise messaging space, IBM and Microsoft are in close competition. Integrating Symphony with Notes can be the carrot that intrigues the IT decision maker to closely evaluate Notes. Separately, providing free downloads of Symphony subtly builds interest in Notes. IBM's actions are based on revenue reach, not altruism.
Microsoft Office is not going to be significantly displaced on the enterprise desktop in the near future -- not by Google Docs, StarOffice, WebEx WebOffice or other Office-wannabes -- though DigOffice has a chance.
I've admired Microsoft's inconspicuous marketing ingenuity. However, IBM won this round. Microsoft, back to you.