IBM is close to releasing software for some of Steve Jobs' hottest platforms, including the iPhone and the Mac OS X Leopard operating system, InformationWeek has confirmed. IBM also said it's porting its new Informix "Cheetah" database to Apple's Leopard OS.
Sources with knowledge of IBM's plans on Thursday confirmed that the company will introduce a version of its Lotus Notes e-mail client for the iPhone next week at the Lotusphere conference in Orlando.
The software will give iPhone users the ability to access the full range of Notes tools, including e-mail, calendars and databases, from the sleek mobile device.
Sources also confirmed that IBM will introduce a version of its Lotus Symphony office productivity suite for the Mac OS X operating system next week. Symphony is a free download that's based on open source software developed by the OpenOffice.org project.
It includes word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation applications meant to rival those found in Microsoft's pricey Office 2007 package. The move also suggests that IBM appears to be moving closer to Apple as part of its effort to chip away at Microsoft's dominance of the personal computing market.
Meanwhile, IBM on Wednesday announced plans to deliver a version of its Informix 11 'Cheetah' database server for Apple's new OS X 10.5 Leopard operating system.
The pairing of the two cats will turn the Mac platform into a high performance, online transaction processing (OLTP) engine at reliability rates of 99.999% availability, IBM said.
Previously, Apple has had difficulty establishing itself as a serious player in the business computing market -- but support from IBM could change that.
A trial version of Informix Cheetah for the Mac is now available for download, IBM said.
IBM and Apple previously worked together, along with Motorola, to develop the PowerPC processor for the Mac in 1991 -- but since then, joint efforts between the two vendors have been few and far between.
However, a stream of new Apple-friendly software from IBM could indicate that IBM is eyeing Cupertino as a strategic partner.
Such a move would be consistent with recent IBM efforts to stimulate the growth of alternatives to computing platforms and applications, such as the Windows OS and Office, developed by rival Microsoft.
For instance, IBM has spent billions over the past several years to help establish the open source Linux OS as a legitimate business platform by funding its development, contributing technology to the movement and striking alliances with Linux distributors such as Red Hat.
Working more closely with Apple would give IBM another platform partner in its campaign against Microsoft. In some ways, Apple is already a natural fit for IBM. The Leopard OS is fully Unix compliant, meaning it's already capable of running a good portion of the products within IBM's enormous software portfolio.
An IBM spokesman on Thursday said he was unable to comment on whether the company has formal plans to work more closely with Apple. Apple officials were not immediately available for comment.