To anyone who follows the tech news at all, and probably even if you don’t, you likely already know that Apple made several announcements today related to the iPhone . There has been much anticipation ever since the Opening General Session at Lotusphere in January when Domino Web Access was announced for the iPhone and iPod Touch to see just what Lotus and Apple could put together. No timeframe was announced for this integration, but it was generally assumed to be at the same time as the iPhone SDK. We have been hearing rumors for weeks now that Apple would announce enterprise integration into the iPhone today and have even been hearing about IBM executives being in Cupertino today. The obvious takeaway was that IBM had made the greatest PR move in years and linked themselves with Apple.
The general level of excitement amongst many in the Lotus community has been high over the SDK announcement but was made even higher with dreamy thoughts of Notes on the iPhone being only days or weeks away. Sadly, as the announcements were made today, when the topic of enterprise integration came up it was coupled with Exchange and ActiveSynch. Not a single solitary mention of Lotus Notes. This has spawned some early reaction from the community, mostly citing disappointment. A small thread, though likely to grow, began quickly on vowe.net. Ed Brill responded by stating that even he was surprised with the lack of announcement, but what that announcement might have been he did not say. Is it DWA? A stripped down Notes client? Traveler?
Does it even matter now? After all, if the announcement comes later today, tomorrow, or next week the proverbial ship has sailed. The Golden opportunity to have Notes (or DWA or Traveler or whatever) indelibly linked with iPhone enterprise integration is lost. The announcement will amount to — what? — a press release? Wow. How much less excitement will that generate than to have had the words “Lotus Notes Integration” splashed across the big screen and the power of Lotus Notes talked up by Apple?
The argument, of course, is that iPhone sales, while impressive, are not at Blackberry levels. And they are not being seriously used or even considered for the enterprise, so why bother?
PR. Simple as that. As a community we fight an uphill battle against the Microsoft FUD engine on a daily basis. I’m not necessarily talking about internal corporate fights but rather external general assumptions about Notes. Notes is dead. Notes sucks. We’ve heard it over and over and over again. Right now Apple is cool. It is shiny, slick, and can do no wrong. They have beautiful brushed aluminum machines that Dell only wishes they could emulate. They have locked us all into their DRM-enabled iTunes without so much as us twitching. They charge us five hundred bucks for a phone that isn’t even 3G enabled and we buy them! They are so freakin’ cool that even Mike Rhodin copied — cheeky as it was — the MacBook Air announcement when he displayed the Lotus Foundations server at Lotusphere. So, to get the Lotus Notes brand associated with the hottest, most press-covered gadget in recent history is worth delaying 8.5 (and I am serious about that) in order to pull resources and get a beautiful, functional, stripped down Notes client with full mail, calendar, and to do tasks in enough working order to be demoed today. If EA was able to get a working version of Spore in the iPhone in the limited time they had the SDK, IBM could have done something! How better to fight the “Notes is dead” mentality then to have the coolest tech company show off Notes on their product? How much better could it be when you go to the iPhone enterprise page to see the Lotus logo rather than the Exchange logo? Link yourself with Apple right now, especially the iPhone, and you garner an immediate uptick in your coolness factor that cannot be manufactured no matter how hard IBM tries.
So, I’m sure in the next few days or weeks or whatever we will finally hear the announcement. By then, will anyone care?