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Notes e-mail may come to the iPhone

Lotus Notes developers are using the iPhone SDK; meanwhile, users have other options

By Matt Hamblen and Eric Lai
March 13, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Whether the next generation of the iPhone will eventually support a second enterprise-class e-mail application to Microsoft Exchange -- namely Lotus Notes -- remains a mystery.

IBM spokesman Mike Azzi, in a phone interview yesterday, said IBM Lotus Notes developers will be working on a Notes e-mail application for iPhone 2.0, but he did not elaborate and could not be reached for further comment.

Apple Inc. officials would not comment on Notes for the iPhone either, but they released a statement saying that 100,000 developers had downloaded the beta software developer's kit (SDK) for the iPhone in the first four days since its release. Several developers are named, but there is no mention of Lotus Notes.

Presumably, Lotus Notes developers would build a Notes e-mail application for the next-generation iPhone by using Apple's SDK announced last week and would distribute it over Apple's new AppStore. AppStore allows developers to wirelessly deliver their applications to iPhone and iPod Touch users. Apple plans to allow developers to charge whatever they want and to allow the developers to keep 70% of the revenues, while Apple keeps the other 30% to cover the cost of running AppStore.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs last week set limits on general categories of applications the company will not allow to be distributed via AppStore, such as pornography, but he did not say anything about competing tools to native applications, such as Notes competing with Exchange. Presumably, Apple could have an exclusive agreement with Exchange, but it has not said whether that is the case. Apple uses AT&T Inc.'s EDGE (enhanced data rate for GSM evolution) network exclusively as its cellular carrier on the iPhone, showing there is a precedent for such action.

The iPhone 2.0 software, now in beta, includes Exchange e-mail capability to answer user demand for an enterprise-class e-mail service. It is also bolstered with added security capabilities. Notes, the second largest enterprise e-mail application, was suggested as a possibility for the iPhone in reports that circulated in January.

There are 140 million Lotus Notes and Domino users worldwide, according to IBM. At Lotusphere earlier this year, IBM said it would support the Apple iPhone by introducing Lotus Domino Web Access 8.5 in the second half of 2008 to provide browser-based access to a user's Domino mail and personal information manager data, a spokeswoman noted today. While Domino Web Access is related, it is not the same as Lotus Notes access from an iPhone. The spokeswoman did not have further information on plans for Notes on the iPhone.

Other ways to get Notes on your iPhone

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