back to article iPhone turns blue as IBM creates Lotus client

The Register has confirmed that IBM is developing a Lotus Notes client for the iPhone, and that they are "working closely" with Apple to create a native application for the iPhone and iPod Touch for business use. Apple and IBM haven't been the best of buddies since Apple switched to Intel chips in their computers back in 2005 …


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  1. sektah

    Apple should just...

    Apple should just purchase the rights to Nullriver's Installer, which makes installing and updating applications on the iPhone / iPod touch so laughably simple and Mac-like.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wait for it...

    I can hear the Notes-bashers sharpening their knives...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    135 million Lotus users worldwide, NONE of them through choice.

    Let's see how the propeller heads that created Notes manage to completely mangle the iPhone's (allegedly) 'superior user experience'.

  4. Colin MacLean

    Bloatware uber alles

    If Notes is anything like it was a few years ago, I'd wait for the 32Gb iPhone to be released...

  5. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    All buddies in business

    Apple had to go to Intel because IBM was too busy making money making Power chips and Cells for games consoles.

    Apple needs business software to shore up the image of the JesusPhone which has generated lots of interest but little or no corporate sales. And the corporate market can be expected to generate the data revenues that Apple so desperately wants to get a take of.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    here we go.... "we used lotus notes version 4 and it was so ugly and crap compared to outlook 2007 to which we just switched"

    probably spoken from the same guys who then go on to say... "apple is just so shallow with their shiny boxes and UI stuff; who cares about that shite!? i need solid features!!"

    i think this is a good idea on both parts as associations with SAP and IBM give apple a stronger biz image. and for IBM and SAP to associate their apps with the iphone, lets them ride on the iphones huge buzz and staff appeal.


    umm... all iphones are sold with a flat unlimited data plan or do you mean something else?

  7. TeeCee Gold badge

    Data revenues?

    Yeah, because the iPhone is really useful for data due to it's extensive 3G data connectivity options. Oopsie.

    As for "Lotus-fecking-Notes", that's what sprang to mind when I read "....turns blue..." as well (sort of, my version had a touch more of the sewer about it).

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At least Lotus-fecking-Notes...

    ... Doesn't quite suffer from catastrophic security failures like Outlook does.

    As much as I hate Notes, the fact is that infected mail doesn't blow through all the security screens by simply previewing it (especially when you force Notes to render it, not let IE do it).

    And no-one wants their new iToy infected...

  9. Peter Fenelon

    80-column mind.

    Can we just stick a 3270 emulator on it and run PROFS? It'd be easier ;)

    Notes has traditionally been a user interface disaster, the cognitive equivalent of clear-air turbulence. It's managed to look nonstandard and clunky on every platform I've ever seen it on.

  10. Dan


    "we used lotus notes version 4 and it was so ugly and crap compared to outlook 2007 to which we just switched"

    I seem to remember that when I worked for IBM, I upgraded to Notes 4 in about 2000/01 or something. I think you would find a similar jump in user experience if you went from the equivalent version of Outlook to Outlook 2007.

  11. Risky
    Gates Halo


    Notes may have hidden qualities, but the client certainly isn't one of them. Definitely behind Outlook Express and no sin of IBM making an effort to catch up.

    Notes on the iPone? I wouldn't know what to laugh at first.

  12. Mike Perrett
    Thumb Up


    No doubt you're an M$ LookOut! Junkie. You're probably comparing a Lotus Notes v4 client (released in 1996) with an Micro$hite product released more than 10 years later.

    Take a look at Notes 8, the composite nature of the applications brings data together from many sources on one screen. and knocks LookOut! into a cocked hat. Sure those older versions of Notes may not have looked as pretty, but I never had a virus or malicious piece of code execute in a Notes client in more than 10 years.

    And in terms of scalability, the server knocks spots of the M$ Exchange server too. Just wake up and smell the coffee.

    I think its great news from IBM and might just provide a corporate solution other than Crackberry, so hopefully their tariffs may drop in response.

  13. Tim Spence

    Lotus Notes *is* shite, but...

    ...competition can only be a good thing.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So ...

    Are all these Notes using corporate types prepared to switch to either O2 or AT&T ?

    Or is the aiiiPhone going to be opened up legitimately ?

  15. Michael Miller

    They all suck

    Things went to shit once someone decided it'd be a good idea to render HTML in a email client.

  16. matt


    There are two types of Lotus Notes users:

    Those that hate it and those that have never used it.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Mike Perrett

    "You're probably comparing a Lotus Notes v4 client (released in 1996) with an Micro$hite product released more than 10 years later."

    No, Lotus Notes v 6 - and it is an utter-utter-utter-utter-utter-utter-utter-utter-utter-utter-utter-utter-utter-utter-utter-utter-utter-utter pain in the arse.

    "Scalability.. blah-blah..". Yeah, whatever. The thing is this: I'm not a system admin, I'm 'just' a user (like 99% of the people who have had Notes forced on them), and as a user I frankly don't give a fuck about how great the Diamond server is. What I DO care about is the fact that Notes has cost me endless grief and hours of extra work over the years I've been forced to use it.

    From my experience the oh-so-brilliant servers fall over at least 3 times a week. Hardly what I'd call impressive.

    So, why don't YOU wake up and smell what you are shoveling?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Notes supports SMTP, POP3 and IMAP so why don't they just turn that on and let the iPhone use it's native mail client.

    IBM promised a Lotus Notes client for the PSION 5 years ago, and it never materialised. They have an idea to port Notes to a new mobile machine, but realise the codebase is so old, rubbish and non-OO that they realise it'll never work.

    Knowing IBM's love for clunky solutions they'll probably develop an OS/2 emulator for the iPhone and run the Notes client on top of that :)

  19. User

    Lotus Notes FTW

    The latest Lotus Notes version is good.

  20. Steve King

    @ Mike Perrett

    Mike, most Notes fans talk about the control available to the IT department. The down side is that most users never get to see the whizzy new things you say it can do.

    We have Notes 7, but I am not allowed to customise it in any way, so it still looks like version 6 (and probably version 5, but I never had to use that). The only change we have been allowed is that we have the version 7 help system, which at least refers to Notes (the version 6 help only referrs to Domino).

    In our case, end users are not even allowed to share an address book, so every time we get a new client (or one moves) 50 people have to individually update their address books.

    The functionality of Notes 7 in our environment is considerably less than Open Exchange and Outlook were in my last firm, and it is much slower as well.

    This may be the IT department's fault, not Notes, but if the IT department can't be trusted with the power, the answer is to take the power away from them.

  21. Alan Davies

    @ Anonymous Coward

    I'd suggest using Notes 8 rather then Notes 6. It's significantly better and you may even have something positive to say about it.

    Saying that Notes is basically a glorified spreadsheet, and we all like spreadsheet don't we?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Hate to tell you ..but Notes is still bad..

    Hi there,

    We run Notes 7 and Outlook/Exchange (company mergers, history, etc) at an SI company I work for.

    Our users (technical and non-technical) HATE Notes, and it takes more servers. Investigation into remote access has also shown the over the wire traffic with Notes clients is slow because there is lots more going on.

    Dont believe me? I read a article from a well known analyst firm (Gart..) who said that they had, at a recent event, got 10 formal, and 10 informal requests for information on moving from Notes to Exchange - and only 1 the other way - and thats what we see with our customers too.

    Anyone that says they like Notes are either:

    a) from the anything but Microsoft crowd

    b) masochists

    c) still bitter that OS/2 didnt win

    d) all of the above.

  23. Dave Badger

    It is not a Lotus Notes client - it is Domino Web Access

    IBM is producing a lite version of Domino Web Access for the iPhone/iPod Touch. Not Lotus Notes.

  24. stizzleswick


    The iPhone is already legitimately available in France and Germany w/o any provider lock-in. The price premium for that seriously sucks, though.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward Notes for business

    In all the puffery I've been reading about this, what I haven't read is whether IBM plans to enable IT departments to manage iPhones that have (potentially) sensitive company information on them...Crackberry does it, WindowsMobile does it...seems a requirement for most corporations that don't like having their sensitive information exposed...ahh, but Notes is the most secure product on the planet, right? (tongue planted firmly in cheek)

  26. Alan Davies
    Thumb Up

    @ Anonymous Coward

    I probably fit into category a. I know Notes is bad, I've supported it since Notes 4! Still it give me something to do whilst I while away the hours until I clock off.

    @Dave Badger (!)

    Shame. I like discussing the annoyance of Notes.

  27. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Jobs for the boys and girls and Jobs for Men and Women .....

    "probably spoken from the same guys who then go on to say... "apple is just so shallow with their shiny boxes and UI stuff; who cares about that shite!? i need solid features!!"

    Actually, just like any other business, Apple needs a Champion using their kit and be shown to be performing Miracles with IT.

    Man Utd. have built up a Global empire built upon a game which has grown men kicking a ball into a net and the men don't even need to behave like men to be paid a fortune. No wonder any Tom, Dick or Harry, whether highly educated or as thick as a two short planks would want to play. How hard can it be for 90 minutes of sustained effort..

    And women have their own mindless pursuits to riches too and who can blame them for taking full advantage of the madness.

    I wonder if that is the problem EMI forgot to register with themselves, they are nothing without champions pioneering rags to riches with unique natural talent to better serve Aspiration rather than just serving up the same old fare in a different wrapper/a clone for milking?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward Notes for business

    In all the puffery I've been reading about this, what I haven't read is whether IBM plans to enable IT departments to manage iPhones that have (potentially) sensitive company information on them (in people's Notes email on the iPhone)...Crackberry does it, WindowsMobile does it...seems a requirement for most corporations that don't like having their sensitive information exposed...ahh, but Notes is the most secure product on the planet, right? (tongue planted firmly in cheek)

  29. Wesley Williams

    Lotus Notes 8 is actually quite good

    The company I joined two years ago was using Lotus Notes 7 and I absolutely hated it after having switched from Outlook. However, I've just upgraded to version 8 and I have to say it's a big improvement. The user interface has has a really good overhaul.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Notes v Outlook v Groupwise

    I have on a number of occasions, and much to my amusment, been involved in migration projects between Notes, Groupwise (Novell) and Microsoft. The primary driver always seems to have been two things - Cost and user demand, the users want Outlook coz they use it at home and it's easy to use, and the accountants want Microsoft because it's cheaper.

    So we, as an SI, happily take their money and convert, being an honest and upstanding SI we tell them the following.

    You can run Outlook agains Lotus, Groupwise, and just about any other eMail server you like, Outlook isn't an eMail server, the Microsoft eMail server is called Exchange, which for a time couldn't recover your server to a point in time, a very legally very significant detail if you send eMails to your client, you can now by the way . Lotus and Groupwise could both do this.

    We also told them that actually the cost of doing it would never really be recovered before they had to upgrade to the next version of Exchange/Outlook, and that if they just spent the training budget on training their existing users to use their client properly they would save money.

    And here's the rub, how many companies, never train their staff on how to use their office software, just assuming they already know how to do it because its been there for years. Having used Lotus, which by the way is so much more than an eMail system as all our clients found out when we told them it would take 5 years to port all the database applications onto another platform so that they could get rid of it, Groupwise and Outlook for many years, actually I'd say Groupwise was the best one, once you knew how to use it.

    These days most people are Microsoft centric and think any office product that isn't Microsoft is difficult, clunky, outdated and any other damning observations they can think of, but actually it's just they don't know how to use them, but it doesn't matter because in I have only ever come across 10 IT cosultants who actually know how to use Word properly.

    And finally, why are we damming a product that's still vapourware, it might be better than Outlook Mobile, which wouldn't be hard, and will probably be able to sync with Exchange servers as well.

  31. Matt Bryant Silver badge


    What happens is IBM says it's all fine, you make changes, build in apps, usually having to stump up for IBM Global Services to get it to work for you. The users hate you, and then you get told you need to upgrade to a new version of Notes/Domino for security/support/paying-for-the-IBM-salesman's-golfing-holiday, and you get told the customistaions you made (and paid IBM to implement) are not supported with the new version! If, like many businesses, you have become dependent on those work apps, and suddenly you face a massive change in tools or staying on an insecure and out-of-date mail system. Meanwhile, all your users are looking longingly at Outlook, and your admins grumble darkly about how much more secure and easier to administer Exchange is.... Long past sharpening knives for Notes!

    Anyway, the iPhone was bought by fashion victims, not corporates, and there is no way on Earth a serious corporates would look at an iPhone over Blackberry or even a smartphone like the Trio. Get real!

  32. Anonymous Coward

    RE: RE: Steve King - don't Customise Notes/Domino

    I just love it when people say how cool Blackerry's are, especially when connected to Exchange servers...100 Blackberry users is equivalent to 1000 real users on an Exchange server, so implementing a BES server can cripple your Exchange environment... I also think that you wrong about the iPhone and corporates... the line is increasingly going towards web-based clients (to save on mail client deployment), and the iPhone can do this as well as any other web client so it's probably more about the cost of the device than functionality.

  33. Tim

    Even IBMers hate Notes...

    At least they did 4 years ago when I fled IBM. It was interesting to read internal forums, where there was an active Notes-loathing culture, with absolutely zero participation from Lotus employees.

    Untold engineering effort went into adapting clunky workarounds, since the Domino server scalability was so poor that they couldn't take the performance hit of enabling IMAP or POP access.

  34. foof
    Thumb Down

    @ Michael Miller

    "Meanwhile, all your users are looking longingly at Outlook"

    The same users that click on attachments from titled 'this improtant pleese reed" ?

    "...and your admins grumble darkly about how much more secure and easier to administer Exchange is..."

    Then they deserve to be fired because they're idiots. The asshat that hired them should be canned too.

    The Blackberry would be ok for mail if we could get any of them built in the last year to last more than two months. In five months every user we have with a new blackberry has had it replaced at least twice. The only reason a Treo would beat an iPhone is third party applications, and that is coming to an end soon. Email is critical to us, as soon as the contract is up on our crapberries, we're switching to the iPhone.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Notes For Me

    I'd take Notes anyday over Outlook/Exchange. (I'm only on 2003, but I know most of my bug bears have made it into 2007).

    Used to use Notes 5, and I quite liked it.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    Outlook/Exchange HAHAHAHAHAHA

    All you Outlook/Exchange fans make me laugh!

    I make my living ripping out expensive Outlook/Exchange installs and convert them to either Groupwise, Lotus Notes or in the case of most small businesses around here, a Linux Imap server with Lightning (Thunderbird + Sunbird) or Evolution.

    After my fee and Hardware/Software purchases most businesses save at least 20% off what they were paying. Oh and the most popular request .... Lotus 8

  37. Thunderstruck

    Comparing oranges and elephants again!

    If you are SME and all you need is a simple mail/calendaring application, stick to Exchange/Outlook.

    Notes/Domino is so much more than just mail and the real value is not realised until the collaborative, workflow and data storage functions are properly developed. Unlike MS, this all comes in one box from Lotus.

    I have worked in both Domino and Exchange environments and will opt for Domino anytime. It astounds me that users in an Exchange environment actually tolerate the quality and level of service I have witnessed. Indeed, those users who have moved to our organisation from Exchange environments invariably comment on the improvement to their working lives.

    Note/Domino does NOT need the client to operate - it is easily switched to web access.

    Domino will support Outlook for those who need this comfort blanket.

    The Notes Client is endlessly adaptable - to the extent that it can even be made to look and operate like Outlook. How customisable is Outlook? Outlook is a triumph of form over function.

    Domino Admin is hardly rocket science - this means that personnel who understand business priorities can be quickly trained to take control away from the techie taliban.

    Domino Designer allows simple applications to be designed quickly, easily and without a PHD in advanced computer science. Adaptation of the many supplied database templates is simplicity itself.

    The licensing model: simplicity, clarity and future-proofed. Just what the doctor ordered.

    Our Domino Environment has multiple servers and availability (over 10 years) is 99.99% with any outages being caused by server platform (MS), network switching or power supply problems.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Outlook/Exchange HAHAHAHAHAHA

    "I make my living ripping out expensive Outlook/Exchange installs and convert them to either Groupwise, Lotus Notes or in the case of most small businesses around here, a Linux Imap server with Lightning (Thunderbird + Sunbird) or Evolution."

    What colour Mini Moke do you drive from all this new found wealth?

    Let me tell you, in enterprise, its all one way migrations, and it aint to Notes.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: @Outlook/Exchange HAHAHAHAHAHA

    Tried hard to resist but had to respond last three contracts have been at global companies ripping out Outlook/Exchange to go pure Notes/Domino. As has been mentioned above, if you only want email then Outlook seems an obvious choice to companies as everyone has it at home (oh yeah?) but once you look at using workflow/collaborative apps etc etc etc then Outlook/Exchange come a long way down the list.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    STOP PRESS , Notes 8 "Actually Good" Shocker!

    Having used notes 4,5,6 and 7. Was shocked to find v.8 actually very usable indeed. Imagine how good it will be when it gets to v.10

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    mNotes is pretty sweet

    ..on a Windows Mobile smartphone.

    You get full calendaring & collaboration (not just email, so better than IMAP).

    Getting mNotes on the iPhone whould be a nice option.

  42. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    RE: foof dumb users everywhere

    Actually, I am currently suffering the daily abuse of corporate Notes, and believe me, we still have plenty of dumb users that click on email viruses, regardless of the email package they use. You obviously believe simply switching to Notes/Domino adds 30 IQ points to the average user and gives them an instant education in security. Just as obviously, you have never worked in a corporate environment in your life. Users will still download and open attachments with Notes, it gives zero protection without a separate anti-virus and spamblocker. And I'm keenly anticipating the arrival of Mac viruses via email just to wipe the smug smile of the Apple fanbois' faces too.

    I've had my last Blackberry for three years without any problems, and I would definately not consider myself a user that handles kit with kid gloves. In the same period, I have killed two work Nokias and a personal Motorola PEBL, all of which had less daily use than the Blackberry. And as for the rubbish about a BES making each user 100 times more busy for an Exchange server, I have never heard such rubbish in my life (even Schwartz and Handys have their limits on nuttery!!). I expect you actually have issues with the database you are using with your BES, maybe you are overloading or have incorrectly configured the freebie MSDE or Express Edition database rather than paying out for SQL or Oracle, or have just simply not bothered to patch it.

  43. Rod
    Gates Horns

    Gimme More Bill.....or Steve....whoever....

    IF only Bill could get his gnomes to design Outlook so it can manage more than 2000 users without having to spend the equivalent of a small country's GDP in support, I could live without Notes.

    So nobody likes using notes? Who cares.....only users complain and what kind of IT people would we be if we make systems decisions based on what users want? pffff.

    Long live Notes......if we can give people iPhones to use with it, all the better. The kewl factor might stop them whinging about the notes client - then I can enjoy lower TCO, less helpdesk calls and be the "cool guy who gave us iPhones" as well.

    Never forget, users are shallow and easily pleased. Trinkets work. Go Steve.


  44. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    It astonishes me how many people here seem to think that Outlook is somehow the epitome of user friendly design... it is bloody awful - of the few things it does get right, there are 100s more where it gets it painfully wrong. Never used Notes but if it is even worse then, Christ, spare me from ever having to use it as several hours a day in Outlook already drives me crackers.

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