A version of Lotus Notes from IBM is at last available for Apple's iPhone as a free download from the AppStore, allowing users to check their Notes e-mail and view their calendar and contacts, IBM announced.
The iNotes Ultralite download comes with IBM's Lotus Notes software 8.0.2, which is designed to offer better performance than earlier versions and uses 20 percent less memory. The AppStore version also offers an update of Lotus Symphony, the free alternative to Microsoft Office for preparing documents, spreadsheets and presentations. According to IBM, the newer version of Symphony provides improved compatibility with Office.
Once the AppStore download is completed, IBM iNotes can be accessed via the iPhone's Safari browser. Users can also add the Lotus Mobile Connect VPN for better security.
IBM named two customers that have tested and used iNotes Ultralite -- Vladimore Jones, a marketing communications company in Greenwood Village, Colo.; and ABData Information Technology Consulting and Engineering in Zurich.
Curtis Pogue, a systems administrator at Vladimir Jones, said he is testing iNotes on about 10 iPhones. "If this works well, and with the cost of iPhones dropping, I can see more use in the future," he said. "The ability to get everything from calendar to contacts in real time would be a huge advantage."
The company now requires iPhone users to sync the calendar and contacts data through a cable.
Pogue said he would eventually like to see Notes as a native iPhone application instead of a Web application. "You could replicate as needed and not have a constant connection," he explained.
In contrast, Jason Michels, the lead system engineer for Notes at Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee, is glad iNotes is a Web-based application, since it doesn't require installing back-end servers, which can be "prohibitively expensive" to support.
"INotes is really exciting," he said. "You just take the Safari browser on that iPhone and put in a URL and connect." He said there are already dozens of iPhone users in his company, and "they are coming out of the woodwork all the time."
While Notes is still behind Exchange in popularity with business e-mail users, IBM claimed strong sales of Notes and Domino over 15 consecutive quarters -- and a 21% increase in sales in the second quarter, compared with the same quarter a year ago.
About 140 million licensed users rely on Notes worldwide, IBM said, with more than half of the world's 100 largest corporations on the platform.
Well before the iPhone 3G went on sale in July, Apple described it as business-ready, primarily because of the addition of Exchange support.