IBM (NYSE: IBM) is making no secret of its ambitions to bring Web 2.0 technologies into the enterprise and out to the mobile workforce, under its own banner.
Big Blue announced this week it's placing its Lotus communication and collaboration tools portfolio on Research In Motion's (NASDAQ: RIMM) BlackBerry, making the smartphone the lone enterprise device to provide mobile access to all major Lotus collaboration solutions.
The Lotus Collaboration Software suite for BlackBerry provides social networking software from IBM Lotus Connections, collaboration tools from Lotus Notes and unified communications (UC) features from Lotus Sametime.
"What people are interested in is 'tagging' experts and knowledge out of the office," Bob Picciano, IBM's general manager of Lotus Software, told InternetNews.com.
"With this suite they can share and collaborate across documents and share social bookmarks," he said, adding, "this is thumb friendly as you can e-mail and tap bookmarks while holding onto a bus pole."
IBM isn't the only application vendor that appreciates the BlackBerry market base. Just a week ago SAP announced it was natively integrating its CRM application into the BlackBerry, providing users full access to all of SAP CRM's functionalities.
Connectivity and communication wherever and however is a growing requirement for businesses. More workers are relying on mobile devices for that capability. Juniper Research predicts that 4.2 billion people will own mobile devices by 2013.
Meanwhile, Research firm Strategy Analytics predicts 290 million mobile handsets will be sold this quarter, an increase of 12 percent compared with the second quarter of 2007.
The news also illustrates IBM's commitment to advancing UC technologies. Just last month it announced a $1 billion R&D effort in unified communications. It's also expanding a partnership with Nortel Networks (NYSE: NT) to provide UC capabilities to small and midsize businesses. The two vendors launched a UC alliance 10 months ago, going toe to toe with market rivals such as Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT).
Plus, industry researcher IDC has reported that the UC market could total $17 billion by 2011.
For RIM, the IBM Lotus mobile partnership will certainly keep the BlackBerry entrenched as the leader in enterprise smartphone adoption. RIM is tops with 73 percent of corporate purchases for the second straight quarter this year, according to research from ChangeWave Research, a Rockville, Md. firm.
RIM also announced its newest BlackBerry this week, the Bold, offering what the Ottawa-based vendor claimed is greater performance and functionality thanks to high-speed network capabilities and a heftier processor component.
IBM's Institute for Business Value predicted mobile Web users will number 1 billion by 2011. The vendor clearly sees market potential and has launched a global research program called the IBM Mobile Web Initiative to deliver mobile Web solutions to emerging markets.