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How Does IBM's New, Hosted Email Stack Up to Gmail?

[qi:012] [qi:004] Following Om’s report on the new iNotes email service from Lotus, a division of IBM, we decided to reach out to Google and see how that company feels the new service compares to Gmail. Like Gmail, iNotes is a hosted service, one that supports webmail POP3, IMAP and IMAP IDLE for mobile devices. Lotus is charging $3.75 a month, competitive with the cost of a Gmail Pro account, but a Gmail Pro account comes with 25GB of storage while iNotes’ storage is a mere 1 GB. Google spokesman Andrew Kovacs gave us some thoughts on other differences between the two services.

“First, at a high level, we’re excited by this news because it’s further validation that things are moving toward the cloud,” Kovacs said. “But it’s not on par with Google Apps. [iNotes is] designed to supplement office email instead of replace it, which doesn’t bring the reduction in cost and complexity and other full benefits of cloud computing. [IBM’s] data sheet says that it is for users who do not need full-fledged collaboration.”

Kovacs also pointed to what he said were Gmail’s adjunct and mobile advantages compared to Lotus iNotes, among them integrated voice and video chat, robust support for mobile devices, platforms and applications, and more.

IBM’s Lotus Notes, the company’s enterprise, non-cloud-based email platform,  has a high number of paid mailboxes — some 145 million — in use. It’s possible that IBM intends iNotes to be more of a cloud-based adjunct to Notes than a competitor for Gmail.  At this point, for most users of hosted email, I’d say that Gmail has a number of advantages over it.

2 Responses to “How Does IBM's New, Hosted Email Stack Up to Gmail?”

  1. Anonymous

    Lotus iNotes is curious announcement and product release. Paid for web-based email ($50/yr) is not on the surface something that would ever get covered here as compelling, EXCEPT that it is IBM’s Lotus group. As I see it, this product release is more about a larger/grand plan in the Lotus group. As Andrew Kovacs said, Lotus Notes has an installed base of 145 million existing customers (all enterprise in a big way). Lotus Domino also has approximately 114 million Lotus Domino customers that it likely hopes to tie to this type of offering. Lotus Sametime Server has about 25 million customers.

    Then getting to Mr. Kovacs big point — IBM’s Sametime Server group, which is right now prem-based, but my company (Meetrix) has successfully port/integrated a combination Lotus Domino and Sametime Server in the Cloud supporting multi-tenancy, which can wrap all of this together to provide a cutting edge unified communications and collaboration environment, and competitively price it due to virtualized cloud-efficiencies.

    Ironically, IBM and Google (and Microsoft and Cisco) will come to loggerheads when all of these solutions converge to the same point for the enterprise customer, but also (now that the solutions will no longer be prem-based) for the SMB and even SoHo users. IBM and Microsoft have the largest enterprise customer based. Cisco has Webex, Jabber, and its unified personal communicator and Google will have the largest free to premium users. All points lead to these Big Four co’s (with numerous small companies playing a small but important role) converging on the same market. It will be very interesting to watch it unfold. Lotus iNotes is a strategic important product release that is much more than it appears to be. IBM is not to be underestimated.