Enterprises always want their mobile workers to have better, smaller and lighter devices. So why is Lotus developing software for bigger and heavier devices, which many Domino users consider to be worse than their progenitors?
Lotus, Nokia and Ericsson recently announced two new "smart phones" that will access Notes/Domino applications through Lotus' new server line, Domino Everyplace. But when Everyplace is released early this summer, Nokia's 9210 Communicator, which weighs nearly 8 ounces, may be sell for as much as US$800. Ericsson's R380 World, which comes in just under 6 ounces, is priced at US$600.
Smart phones promise to combine standard mobile phone functions with PDA features, like touch-sensitive LCD screens and larger keyboards. But neither the 9210 Communicator nor the R380 World solve the problems users associate with WAP-enabled mobile phones. "Readability and navigation are still a problem," says Joe McGuire, enterprise marketing director at Hackensack, NJ-based GoAmerica Communications Corp. GoAmerica's Go.Web service allows users to access the Net from their laptop and handheld devices. "We won't object if our users insist on using the phones," McGuire says. "But they make true wireless data tasks very difficult."
The Ericsson R380 World's screen size is about half that of a Palm Handheld. But Lotus thinks its mobile Domino users will be attracted to the phone's all-in-one voice/data access. "Business users are more interested in working with text, accessing menus, and sending and receiving messages than they are about their devices graphical interface," says Jim Pouliopoulos, senior marketing manager at Lotus' mobile and wireless division.
Business users do worry about keeping costs down, however. "The price of smart phones can have a big impact on the overall budget for a project," says Jeff Fox, president of Mobile Foundations LLC, based in Falls Church, Va. Fox's company develops Domino-based wireless emergency response systems for NASA's unmanned space flight programs; users receive alerts and send simple instructions via two-way pagers.
Lotus says that, by embracing the Symbian-based smart phones, it will relieve the pressure IT will soon feel to support the new devices. "The biggest problem for IT managers is that there are already too many devices out there," Pouliopoulos says. "But through Domino Designer [Lotus' application development environment], we can lift the burden of writing the code that they'll need to support each one of them."
Research firm IDC says more than 23 million smart phones will be in use by 2004. Check these links, then brace yourself for the coming onslaught:
Smart phones: The new shape of mobile communication
"It's not difficult to see how smart phones will fit into the corporate landscape," writes Infoworld's Ana Orubeondo. Orubeondo insists that mobile workers will find the devices "irresistible."
A new "EPOC" for PDA/Phones http://www.zdnet.com/products/stories/reviews/0,4161,2682288,00.html.
PC Magazine likes Ericsson's R380 World, calling it "small and light enough to please most mobile phone users."
Nokia's 9210 Communicator will likely enjoy modest success http://gartner11.gartnerweb.com/public/static/hotc/il1205001.html.
Nokia's 9210 Communicator "will have little following in North America, where more users try to avoid devices with small keyboards," according to Gartner analysts Ken Dulaney and Peter Richardson.
Mark Baard is a contributing writer based in Milton, Mass.