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October 27, 1999

Wireless in Berlin: Lotus Gets Aggressive on WAP & Messaging

By CBR Staff Writer

Lotus Development Corp has launched a wireless application protocol-enabled Domino server and signed a major unified messaging deal at Lotusphere Europe in Berlin. The IBM Corp company rolled out Lotus Mobile Services for Domino Release 1.0 and signed a letter of intent with major handset manufacturer Nokia Oyj for its first major push into the WAP phone market. On the unified messaging front, Lotus said that it will be entering into major partnerships to offer customers a full range of messaging services, the first of these being with AVT Corp.

The Mobile Services software builds WAP support into the Domino server R5 platform. Steve Lewis, general manager, messaging and collaboration, at Lotus, said that as well as offering calendar, scheduling, task list and email functions; a user would be able to access collaborative or knowledge management applications via WAP against the Domino server. A user could also use the Domino WAP server as a access point onto the web, allowing them to do such things as view bank statements and the like online.

Technically, the Lotus software deals with making full-screen apps suitable for viewing on restricted screen size mobile phones either by rendering standard code into wireless markup language or allowing developers to hard code applications in WML. The WAP server strips out extraneous color, tags and information for handset viewing. Lewis expects that more developers will choose to code in WML, as services become more prevalent.

Lewis claimed that Lotus Notes/Domino is already the leading software for mobile usage, above Microsoft Corp’s Exchange/Outlook offering and extending support to a new class of devices only strengthened that position. This extends the gap between ourselves and Microsoft, yet again, Lewis boasted. Mobile Services for Domino can be used with an existing Domino server, or as a standalone product. It is available now and costs $4,000 for the software and $20 per user.

On the unified messaging front, Lewis said that Lotus had settled on partnering as the best way of bringing together the disparate elements needed to offering a unified messaging service. He refused to give details but said that Lotus would announcing other partnership deals in this space over time. We have the leading market share in messaging today, we intend to hold that position, he said.

The Notes and Domino versions of CallXpress offer unified messaging functions such as a single message store, an address book for addressing all message types, ActiveX controls for managing voice and fax messages from the Notes client. The product uses voice-processing hardware from Dialogic. Lewis said that the software would be available in November. No pricing details are available.

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