Lotus Expands Unified Messaging Plans

IBM Corp.'s Lotus Development Corp. is

setting its sights on snagging a goodly piece of the unified messaging (UM)

market, expanding its wireless and mobile capabilities with the help of global

strategic alliance partner AVT.

Defining unified messaging as "e-mail, voice, and fax from a single universal inbox and a single data store," Lotus officials here today said that they will use mobile solutions and support for wireless access protocols (WAPs) to bring corporate users -- who are finding themselves in an increasingly mobile world -- into the UM fold.

James Pouliopoulos, senior marketing manager for messaging and collaboration for Lotus, noted that UM is a concept, not a product, and Lotus will use the term to describe a family of offerings including the recently announced iNotes and Mobile Notes. Both products help users of handheld Palm-type devices, two-way pagers, smart phones, and WAP-enabled phones access their e-mail, faxes, pages, and voicemail all in one place.

UM will also play a part in Lotus' ASP (application service provider) plan, Pouliopoulos said.

"(Application service providers) are going to become a bigger part of our strategy this year," Pouliopoulos said, adding that Lotus intends to grow its UM commitment by winning over Microsoft Corp. customers with the Notes/Domino collaborative infrastructure and the new Mobile Notes and iNotes solutions.

Lotus already has a partnership with Nokia and is working on strategic partnerships with other wireless communication-focused companies, such as Ericsson, expecting to take advantage of the growing WAP-enabled device and smart-phone market. However, a wireless offering for Palm devices will come to the market before phone solutions, officials said.

The partnership with AVT will also be vital for Lotus; the two companies have worked together since October 1999 on joining AVT's CallXpress with the Domino server and Notes client. Lotus gets advice from an experienced UM company with multiple telephony connections, while AVT has the advantage of Lotus' 56 million Notes users, officials said.

"We enhance that groupware environment with unified messaging," said Randy Ottinger, president of AVT. "Mobility is pertinent to everybody."

Lotus Development Corp., in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is at http://www.lotus.com/.

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