The IBM team fielded this question more frequently than any other at Macworld Expo yesterday: "Why are you here?"  In my mind, no question could be a better entree.  In fact, it was essentially that question we wanted to answer simply with our physical presence -- tying the launch of Notes 8.5 and Symphony for the Mac into it was a double bonus.

So why is IBM, and more specifically the Lotus brand team, at Macworld Expo (booth 3418 north hall, for those who want to stop by)?  If you have been following my blog for the three months since I've moved to product management, you've heard me mention Apple more than a few times.  Quite simply, Apple is seeing a market opportunity to further penetrate the enterprise, and they see IBM as a key vendor to help with that.  It's true, the Microsoft Mac BU has the huge booth and Guy Kawasaki autographing yesterday, so we have some room to grow in the Mac market from a visibility perspective.  But our presence, our announcement, and the endorsement from Apple's Ron Okomoto in the press release are all signs that both Apple and IBM are serious about making this work.  The continuing Apple in the Enterprise roadshow in the US is another.  Combine Notes 8.5, Sametime, Symphony and Connections and you have the best collaboration tools suite in the industry.  They all work on the Mac, and with their new releases, excel on the Mac.

Apple and IBM Lotus sales team have been working together in the last few months as well, and yesterday at Macworld Expo, I met a nice chap from iTX in Australia who has built a great message.  He's working with both companies and using Lotus Foundations on the back end and Notes+Symphony on the Mac on the desktop to present a 100% Microsoft-free productivity and collaboration solution to customers.  And it's resonating.  And if you are a partner, you can do the same, and add value through your solutions or expertise or whatever.

The Forbes and Financial Times stories got it.  So did much of the other already-impressive press coverage, especially in the UK, Australia, and here at home.  IBM has the enterprise expertise.  In my personal opinion, Apple has the best overall desktop story at the moment, though I'm sure the Linux community will point out relative strengths there, too.  Either way, Vista's complete failure to penetrate the enterprise has made this an interesting place to play.  The consumerization of IT, and the influence of iPhones and iPods, has made this an interesting place to play (and play more).  And making an announcement in the context of all of that hit the target squarely in the bull's-eye -- IBM is here to win in the Apple market.

The other interesting effect of being at a show like Macworld Expo is that many of our conversations at the booth have been with end-users.  More than once, we saw someone call back to a colleague in the office asking "what version do we run?  No, it doesn't look like that!"  Even the Financial Times journalist tied that into his story.  If our presence at a show like Macworld Expo helps drive Notes 8.x adoption, that can only be a good thing for everyone.  This is why we made sure to tie the Domino-side story of DAOS and cost savings into the press release, even though the theme was the client.  IT admins, management, and CFOs will all like the message around the full Notes/Domino 8.x suite -- tremendous improvements in productivity, flexibility to use desktops of choice, a great browser-based approach for desktops and mobile devices, and significant reduction in operational costs.

Macworld Expo continues for the rest of the week, and while I'm on a plane back to Chicago this morning, the IBM Lotus crew will be here for the duration.  John Beck on my team made our presence happen, and it wasn't easy to get here.  The payback was clear in just one day, and by the end of the week, I'm sure we'll have a hundred more great stories.

So, how do we follow this up?  We're still saving up a bunch of things for the next few weeks.  Near as I can tell, sleep is going to be optional for about 20 days, but it's all for a good cause.

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