Lotus' annual conference, Lotusphere, kicked off today with more of a whimper than a bang as the company announced that its long awaited Notes and Domino Release R5 would not ship until next month.
Despite dramatically launching R5 at a lively beach party in Disney World, Florida, last night, in his opening keynote speech, Lotus president and CEO Jeff Papows admitted it would be several more weeks before customers actually get their hands on the groupware product.
He commented: "The expected thing is for me to tell you we're shipping this week and I can't tell you that." He added: "We need two to three more weeks of polishing to ensure stability and reliability to make the product bullet proof."
He stressed that R5 is the "most ambitious" of Lotus' efforts to date and that "R5 is to Lotus and IBM what WIndows 95 was to Microsoft".
Papows also used his time on stage to take several knocks at Lotus' arch rival in the groupware marketplace, Microsoft, and was full of confidence that Lotus had the edge.
He also outlined the company's marketing campaign for the product, based around the legend and characteristics of Superman and describing R5 as "Superhuman Software".
One of the new additions to R5 is a new user interface aimed at making Notes easier to use. It now features a browser-like desktop environment allowing users quicker access to their most frequently used applications including Internet email, news, calendars and Web browsing all from one integrated source.
Despite Papows' confidence, industry analysts Gartner have already warned that late delivery of R5 may cost the company customers.
In a recent report, the company stated that Lotus is under competitive assualt from Microsoft and is facing the major challenge of holding the interest of current and potential messaging customers during the idle time that has resulted from the delay of Domino/Notes R5.
Meanwhile, the company is not confirming dates, only a promise from Papows that it will ship some time in February.
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