New IBM Lotus BlackBerry Apps Aim to Boost Mobile Business Collaboration

BlackBerry-maker RIM today will launch two new enterprise collaboration apps for IBM Lotus users with BlackBerry smartphones: Lotus Quickr, which provides a variety of unique, "team-based" collaboration features; and a upgraded and expanded version of the Lotus Connections social-networking BlackBerry app.

Research In Motion (RIM) helped kick off software-behemoth IBM's seventeenth-annual Lotusphere conference this morning with the announcement of two new IBM Lotus applications for BlackBerry smartphones: Lotus Quickr v1.0 and Lotus Connections v2.3.

RIM's brand new Lotus Quickr application was initially previewed at last year's Lotusphere event. Today, IBM and RIM plan to release today both Quickr for BlackBerry and an upgraded version of the Lotus Connections BlackBerry app.

screen shot of IBM Lotus Quickr for BlackBerry v1.0
IBM Lotus Quickr for BlackBerry v1.0

Lotus Quickr is IBM's document-based enterprise collaboration software, allowing users to check-in and check-out digital documents--in variety of formats including Microsoft Office and IBM's own Lotus Symphony--track changes made to said documents and keep tabs on who made what modifications when, etc.

The new BlackBerry app brings much of Lotus Quickr's core functionality to BlackBerry devices, according to Valerie Wang, RIM's manager of enterprise product management. Specifically, BlackBerry users can now navigate IBM Lotus Quickr libraries and folders while on the go; upload, preview and/or download content from their handhelds; and edit files within Quickr's version controls, according to the BlackBerry-maker.

With Lotus Quickr, "[M]obile users won't become bottle-necks for the rest of their teams when they're on the road," Wang says.

Lotus Connections for BlackBerry isn't new, but according to Wang, the earlier version, v1.1, is very basic and v2.3 adds many new valuable features. For example, Lotus Connections for BlackBerry v1.1 only lets users access Connections profiles and bookmarks. But the new version offers access to Connections communities, activities, blogs and more, all via BlackBerry, Wang says.

screen shot of IBM Lotus Connections for BlackBerry v2.3
IBM Lotus Connections for BlackBerry v2.3

Both Lotus Quickr v1.1 and Lotus Connections v2.3 for BlackBerry are tightly integrated with a number of core RIM apps including the phone, email inbox, browser, tasks, contacts and camera to make for a richer and more intuitive user experience, according to Wang. So a user who receives an e-mail from a manager could, say, click on a listing in the message to turn it into a to-do item in Connections, an FYI to the whole team, a personal to-do task or all of these options at once, Wang says.

BlackBerry handheld OS 4.5 or higher is required.

The apps use a new Social Networking Application Proxy (SNAP) server to reduce the bandwidth required to transfer data back and forth between corporate infrastructure and RIM devices. And administrators can run "usage-reports" to determine which specific Lotus features are being used most frequently and by which users--an element that could be of particular interest to CIOs and IT managers who need to demonstrate ROI.

The IBM Lotus apps are also good-looking and intuitive, according to Wang.

"When you're using an application every day, it should be handsome and attractive" as well as functional, Wang says.

Finally, thanks to a new pact between IBM and the BlackBerry-maker, the Lotus apps will be distributed through IBM; RIM won't be doing the dealing itself.

"We asked our customers, and they said 'We want you to build it and IBM to sell it,'" Wang says.

Visit RIM's website for additional information on IBM Lotus collaboration apps. And you can pop on over to IBM's website for more on Lotusphere, which is being held January 17 - 21 in Orlando, Fla.

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