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Lotus IM coming to BlackBerry

Lotus Instant Messaging capabilities will be available on BlackBerry wireless devices by year-end. The mobile version of Lotus IM will connect to Domino desktop clients and will mark the first time that the BlackBerry supports an enterprise-level IM service.

Lotus Instant Messaging will be available on the BlackBerry portable wireless device by year-end, when Ontario-based Research in Motion (RIM), maker of the BlackBerry, releases BlackBerry Enterprise Server 4.1 for Domino. A beta version of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server 4.1 software that contains Lotus IM is due in the next few months.

As a result of the agreement between RIM and IBM, announced last week, a Lotus IM client will connect a Blackberry user to an existing corporate IM community. The wireless device will also have the same buddy lists, the same contacts and the same calendar as a user's desktop, said David Heit, senior product manager at RIM. "When we do an integration, we're not just looking at e-mail (first), then IM. You have to have compatibility with just about everything," he said.

The agreement will also benefit Domino administrators. Along with establishing policies for their users, such as who gets IM on their BlackBerry and who doesn't, they will have access to a server-based audit log of messages, and all traffic over the network will be encrypted, Heit said. Administrators can also help users design a unique notification profile so that, for example, an IM and an e-mail have different "pings." That way, users know if they have to respond right away.

Rather than duplicate the entire Domino desktop environment, where users can view 100-row spreadsheets or lengthy contracts, Heit said the idea behind Lotus IM for BlackBerry is providing the essentials for quick communication.

"(With IM), you're looking for rapid access to important information when you need it. A lot of corporate users like the IM capability because they can quickly initiate a conversation with a bunch of people," Heit said.

More than 10 million people worldwide use Lotus IM, which until recently was known as Lotus Sametime. Along with messaging, the platform lets users exchange audio, video and text files and participate in Web conferences.

Given IBM's focus on collaboration -- the idea that various software applications can work together -- David Marshak, IBM's senior product manager for real-time collaboration products, said putting Lotus IM on the BlackBerry is "more than a perfect fit."

Marshak views IM capability not in terms of chatting but in terms of presence. IM, he said, is an augmentation of the telephone, not e-mail. "It's not about you being reachable, it's about you being mobile and seeing who's available right now," Marshak said. "The emphasis is really on the mobile user having real-time access to the information they need to do business right now."

Alan Panezic, director of the BlackBerry Solutions Group at RIM, said in a recent interview with that Domino's inherent structure -- as a series of databases that also provide Web services -- means a marriage with BlackBerry makes sense. "It offers people what has been promised for a long time," Penazic said.

--additional reporting by editor Jack Vaughan

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