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IBM Brings Collaborative Notes to iPhone

IBM on Tuesday announced the release of a new version of its flagship Lotus Notes collaboration software that supports the iPhone's built-in e-mail client software and lets users incorporate their Notes contacts and calendar with other iPhone applications.

IBM (NYSE: IBM) already provides support for the full spectrum of mobile devices including RIM's BlackBerry, Nokia's Symbian and a variety of Windows mobile devices. It said Lotus Domino 8.5.1 is the first version of the software to natively support the iPhone via Lotus Notes Traveler software.

By bringing even more convenience and functionality to the wildly popular iPhone, Big Blue expects this new version will help it further entrench its Lotus Notes and Domino collaboration and productivity suites in the enterprise.

"We are accelerating the delivery of millions of existing Lotus Domino applications to mobile users, and promote the creation of a variety of new ones to help people work smarter on the go," said Kevin Cavanaugh, vice president of IBM's messaging and collaboration group in a statement. "No charge Domino Designer will make it easier for organizations to adopt, acquire, and manage IBM Lotus Notes and Domino software, and proliferate the development of powerful, new business apps for Lotus Notes and Domino."

Google last month jumped into the iPhone fray when it rolled out support for so-called "push" mail to Apple iPhone and Windows Mobile devices.

Push has a long been a key feature of the BlackBerry devices coveted by corporate users because it automatically brings users new e-mail and calendar updates without needing to manually check for them.

Previously, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) only offered push e-mail for the BlackBerry and for devices built on the open source Android operating system, on which Google leads development. Now, users of the Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone and iPod Touch and of devices based on Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows Mobile will similarly benefit, Google said.

"With the over-the-air, always-on push connections, e-mails and changes to calendar events and contacts are reflected very quickly on their phones," Google's product management director, Raju Gulabani, wrote in a Sept. 22 blog post.

IBM officials point out that thousands of companies worldwide rely on the 10 million Lotus Notes and Domino applications used for sales projections, compliance, project management and travel approvals.

To ensure enterprise customers continue to renew their e-mail, productivity and collaboration licenses, Big Blue said Tuesday it will now begin giving away its Domino Designer software tools for free.

Beginning with version 8.5.1, the software development community can download IBM Lotus Domino Designer at IBM's developerWorks software