IBM chief executive Lou Gerstner opened the 1997 Lotus Sphere conference in Florida on Monday with a bold declaration to Lotus rivals Microsoft and Netscape: "Groupware is one battle we intend to win".
Gerstner, delivering the keynote address at IBM subsidiary Lotus? annual conference for the second year in succession, dubbed Lotus? Notes and Domino Web server product lines as the "crown jewel in [IBM?s] Internet strategy", adding "the sales rate of the entire IBM company will be behind Notes and Domino this year".
Lotus Notes' market share has more than doubled to 9.5 million seats since the last Lotus Sphere, with 5.5 million seats sold in 1996. This growth is expected to continue in 1997 with a predicted year-end installed base of 18 million seats.
A capacity crowd at the Dolphin Hotel in Disney World, Orlando, heard Gerstner read from a management consultancy report on groupware, which focused on Microsoft's and Netscape?s efforts in the sector. The report was entitled ?Two Emperors Duelling Naked?, said Gerstner, an image that he claimed would stick in his mind.
IBM and Sun plan to integrate Domino with the Solaris operating system on Sun' Ultrasparc platform and Intel's Pentium-based hardware, allowing one tool to manage both Domino and Solaris. Sun also plans to port Solstice HA 1.2 clustering extension software to Domino. IBM will announce Domino support for the AS/400 and S/390 platforms later in the week.
Lotus' president Jeff Papows and vice president of strategy Mike Zisman were on hand to unveil new products, which reflected the company?s strategy of targeting the traditional PC market as well as preparing for the potential NC market.
These include Lotus Desktop for NC, a Java Virtual Machine operating environment that offers Web browsing and personal information management features, and Kona, a cross-platform suite for corporate Intranets that allows information to be gathered from inside the company and from the Internet.
Among the other products announced on the first day of the conference were a Notes thick client, codenamed Lookout, which is designed to compete against Netscape's Communicator, and Lotus Mail for Java, a browser written in Java.
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