November 9 2009
I was just reading Jens Bruntt's blog entry from last week, "Android synci'ing PIM with Lotus Traveler: TouchDown". This is just days after I held an internal review to discuss our plans for Lotus Notes Traveler in 8.5.2 and beyond. I can't blog those plans yet, but a portion of the discussion covered what our plans should be for support for Notes Traveler on Android-based devices.
The philosophy with Lotus Notes Traveler has been to leverage built-in capabilities on the devices that are supported. In some cases, we install a small shim program to handle communications to Domino, but we don't build mail/calendar/contacts applications. For the Apple iPhone, we use the native experience 100% (though in the future, we may build add-ons that enhance the built-in capabilities).
Android-based phones present a different challenge. The base operating system has only just added an an "Exchange" (ActiveSync) mail client in the 2.0 SDK. More to the point, since Android is an open platform, we will see different device manufacturers elect to include or exclude different components from their implementations, or choose to build their own, or implement third-party, solutions for different functionality. There's also a gap in that the base 2.0 Android kit does not include a calendar implementation, though presumably most device manufacturers will include a calendar component on their devices.
Jens's blog entry talks about a third-party Android product that implements email, calendar, and contacts for "Exchange". Jens has not tried the product but one of the comments on his site says "it works!". This is good news and another testimonial to the Notes Traveler 8.5.1 implementation, even though obviously this won't be an officially-supported configuration.
At any rate, it looks like Android's momentum is increasing -- Gartner predicts that Android will be the #2 mobile phone operating system by 2012, behind Symbian. (Blackberry and iPhone follow in 3rd and 4th...and Windows Mobile is in 5th and declining. Some are even writing Windows Mobile off) Given that, I want to make sure that we bring Notes Traveler to the Android sooner rather than later. The problem is that the different implementations, distributions, and capabilities are going to make this much more difficult than other mobile platforms we support. Microsoft is facing the same challenge for Exchange -- for a change, they are not the first and default experience in a mobile operating system. Calendar especially looks like a place where there will be little consistency. We're working on some options now, but it's a good opportunity to ask -- what would you like to see for Android?