A really good interview with Mike Rhodin.  Two quotes worth highlighting:

Five years ago, Notes did not seem to have a direction; what has changed?
If you go back five years, by then most people had made their email decision, Notes or Exchange, so a lot of the focus in Lotus was experimenting in new spaces. If you look over the last few years a couple of things had happened.

One, we are re-focusing in on the core business, making sure we have the core email applications, after we've delivered what we think is a great return on investment story around the server and the capabilities on that side.

And we have been harvesting some of the experimentation that went on. What you have seen here [at Lotusphere this week] is the culmination of four years' work, to really harvest new technologies, experiment with different ways of doing things and then bring them into a much-simplified product portfolio.

I now have everything built down into five core services around messaging and calendaring with Domino, sharing information with Quickr, real-time communications with Sametime, social-networking platform with Connections and portal. We have built the technology so they are not overlapping, but synergistic.
As strong a strategy on offense as Lotus has had in a long time.  

Then there's this bit:
Do you have any plans for a consumer product like Outlook Express, a product that is responsible for a lot of Microsoft's growth in consumer communications?
First of all, we are not a consumer company. Check the name, IBM is International Business Machines. And I challenge people on the assumption that a lot of growth comes from Outlook Express. I think if you look at what people are using at home, I don't think they are using Outlook Express any more. I think they are using Google Mail, Yahoo. I think they are using a lot of the "born on the web" -based email services. The phenomenon of the Outlook client at home is starting to dissipate.
This came up during Q&A at "ask the developers" on Thursday, and the applause was loud for the question.  Honestly, I'm more on Mike's side than the crowd's.  

Why?  Well, much as I'd love Notes to be pervasive, the consumer value of yet another e-mail and calendar client (vs. Outlook Express, Thunderbird, and web-based services like gmail and Yahoo) is not necessarily as big as some seem to think.  The costs associated with a "free" Notes client are fairly steep, and the infrastructure needed to support consumers is fundamentally different.

I believe Notes would need to have a lot more "out of the box" value to make it a worthwhile consumer client.  Years ago, something called "private edition" was tried with Notes R5 in Europe.  It didn't get any traction, despite some consumer-focused applications and an easier installation routine.  Now, a lot has evolved in the years since, but the delivery model for consumers has, too.

I'm not sure what the person who asked the question during "ask the developers" meant about IBM having made a commitment to deliver a consumer version of Notes "a year ago".  Can't remember any such commitment -- and the issues outlined above applied then as now.

Still, I don't want to be naive about the influence of consumer technologies in the workplace -- and am open to ideas on the right way to approach this.

Link: ZDNet UK: Q&A: Lotus wakes up to social networking >

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