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IBM Puts Enterprise Social Software On iPhone

The company sees growing corporate interest in Apple products.

While consulting firms like Gartner continue to voice reservations about the suitability of Apple's iPhone for enterprise use, business people are going about their business with their iPhones and enterprise software vendors are following.

At Macworld 2010 in San Francisco on Thursday, IBM plans to deliver and demonstrate new business-oriented collaboration software for the iPhone, the iPod touch and Macintosh computers.

"A year ago, mobility was a basic accessory to collaboration," said Alistair Rennie, general manager of IBM Lotus Software, in a phone interview. "But very rapidly, in past 12 months, mobile has vauted to become a prime requirement for a collaboration platform. I think the iPhone has been one of the drivers of that."

For Apple, rising interest in mobile computing appears to be earning it a place inside corporations that only a few years ago tended to shun its products in favor of offerings that worked with Microsoft Windows.

IBM, says Rennie, isn't just following the success of the iPhone. The company actually has a growing focus on Apple products in an enterprise context. "Mac is becoming increasingly mainstream across just about every industry segment that we deal with," he said.

"I think people are just looking for an all-in-all more productive environment to work with," he explained. "People are increasingly fatigued in the Windows world." He also says that IBM is seeing customers seeking the cost efficiencies of Linux.

To highlight its focus on Apple, IBM is making its enterprise social software Lotus Connections and Lotus Quickr available for the Mac and iPhone. iPhone users can now access Quickr files using a native iPhone app created by IBM development partner SNAPPS.

The company is also going to demonstrate its Lotus Sametime software for the Mac and iPhone.

In addition, it plans to demonstrate Lotus Symphony 3.0, its free alternative to Microsoft Office, for the Mac. And it plans to offer guidance to software developers seeking to bring Domino business applications to Apple's mobile devices.

The company claims that it is the first to support securely encrypted e-mail on the iPhone from the iTunes App Store. Its software also enables secure instant messaging with support for voice, video, and online meetings.

IBM says that its social software is its fastest growing software line, used by clients such as Colgate-Palmolive, HSBC, and the United Nations, among others.

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