Will IBM's Lotus Symphony succeed where other Office killers haven't?

Do you see IBM's new Microsoft Office alternative, Lotus Symphony, as offering things other ODF suites don't? Will IBM's Office competitor will make more inroads than the existing crowd of ODF productivity products?
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

IBM's September 18 unveiling of its IBM Lotus Symphony desktop-productivity suite -- yet another Open Document Format (ODF) alternative to Microsoft Office -- got me thinking about when and whether too many choices yield confusion.

IBM Lotus Symphony is another OpenOffice.org variant. It is free and available for immediate download for both Windows and Linux desktops.

IBM's name may give this alternative to Microsoft Office more corporate oomph than the many Office competitors that have come and gone over the years. None of these Microsoft alternatives have managed to make any kind of real dent in Microsoft's 90-plus-percent marketshare in desktop office suites.

But if customers decide they want an ODF-based productivity suite, IBM isn't the only option. Sun is still selling StarOffice. Google is hawking its ODF-based Google Apps Premiere Edition (GAPE) offering -- now with a Google PowerPoint killer.  Google also is offering StarOffice for download as part of its Google Pack. (Instead of charging the $70 per copy that Sun has levied for StarOffice, Google made StarOffice available for free.)

On the plus side, IBM has set itself up nicely in case Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML) doesn't make it through the standards gauntlet early next year. For government customers and others who are required to purchase "open-standards-based" software, IBM Lotus Symphony will fit the bill.

Anyone out there see IBM's new Office alternative as offering things other ODF suites don't? Do you think IBM's Office competitor will make more inroads than others -- and if so, why?

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