MacWorld held two important announcements for collaboration professionals, especially those interested in multidevice future:
1. Lotus announced that Notes 8.5 is shipping on Macintoshes, specifically on the new Leopard version of OS X. And its open source office productivity suite, Symphony will be available in a few months. Why does this matter? It matters because Lotus has a clear, vigorous multidevice strategy for the tools that make information workers productive. See Ed Brill's post for the IBM point of view.
2. Cisco announced that WebEx Meeting Center is available on iPhones. In fact, you can download it today to your iPhone. While I haven't yet had the chance to put it through its paces, this announcement signals Cisco's commitment to supporting multiple devices. I expect them to continue to roll unified communications apps on mobile phones of every flavor.
Here are some details:
- The native iPhone application is freely available at the Apple AppStore or at iTunes.
- It doesn't cost any more to attend a meeting over an iPhone. (But the hoster does have to be running the most current version of the WebEx software.)
- Attendees can get a callback to their device to listen in, or use a third-party conferencing service.
- The application includes chat.
- Cisco has its VPN and digital certificate technology already built into iPhone 2.x, so security is not really an issue.
- Attending a Web conference on an iPhone does use battery life. (Duh.) (But this is an issue of using the phone for more than just the occasional email. Still, it does argue that battery life must get a whole lot better on these mobile devices.)
- Cisco's been testing this application internally (read: Cisco's IT department is comfortable supporting iPhones as an enterprise mobile device).
- WebEx Meeting Center is just the beginning of Cisco's iPhone application support.
This idea of smartphones as mobile collaboration platforms is catching hold in organizations that have a mobile or remote workforce, that are looking to cram ever-more productive hours into a day, and give their peripatetic employees the tools they need to be productive away from their desks.
One more thing: In December, RIM bought Chalk Media, a company with a solid technology for pushing training materials and video to BlackBerrys. So RIM clearly gets the "mobile collaboration platform" thing.
Should be a fun 2009!