IBM is going into the mobile phone business with plans to resell RIM’s Blackberry mobile devices pre-loaded with IBM's collaboration software. The effort is part of IBM’s mobile strategy heading into 2010 and was revealed at its annual Lotusphere conference.
In addition, the company announced Notes Traveler for the iPhone, the very first IBM application in the Apple iPhone store. Traveler is the Lotus push mail client. The iPhone app support provides access to encrypted email sent via Domino. Ed Brill, director of product management for Lotus Software said Lotus would also add email and calendar enhancements to the Traveler application for the iPhone.
IBM/Lotus also plans to deliver Traveler for Android phones in the first half of this year.
The Blackberry devices will feature the Blackberry Client for IBM Lotus Quickr. The client provides content sharing and collaboration based on Quickr, a content repository. Also on the RIM devices is the new Blackberry Client for IBM Lotus Connections, which is a suite of social software.
The mobile applications will retains all the Notes platform security to ensure secure access. The two applications add to the IBM/Lotus Sametime client that is already available on the Blackberry.
"Users only need to push the client out to end users to get the capabilities of the Blackberry server," said David Yach, CTO of RIM.
Increasingly Lotus is being told by its customers that the mobile device is the primary point of access employees use to help complete their work, says Alistair Rennie, GM at Lotus.
The deal is unique for IBM as it is the first time it will collect revenue for each device sold that is loaded with its social software. In addition, it is the first time IBM will resell a smartphone, although IBM officials say they are not getting back into the hardware business.
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