Fredrik Malmborg just posted an article (in Swedish) on his blog about how the Swedish government have been moving several departments (taxes, defence, etc) from an IBM/Lotus platform to the Microsoft stack. He noticed that a certain executive with sales responsibility for public sector at a big software company became Secretary of State (not the same as "Secretary of State" in the US) right before the government asked a certain software company (guess which one!) to write the specification for the new system. Coincidentally that same company (Microsoft) was then choosen to deliver the solution. IBM was never offered to even compete.
A year ago Computer Sweden wrote (in Swedish) about several departments moving from IBM/Lotus to Microsoft, without IBM being allowed to compete, or in some cases select Microsoft despite IBM being less expensive. Google translation here.
Here are some arguments used in the studies presented to the government why the switch should be done:
* Outlook is used privately by many users and thus have a higher acceptance.
* The similar interface improves the user experience.
I know that IBM does not believe in those arguments, but the customers and the ones in charge (may it be politicians, civil servants or a CEO) buy that argument. Line, hook and sinker… Especially if the persons in change are among the ones that use Outlook at home (since it come bundled with many versions of Office). I personally know several people who use Outlook (not Outlook Express!) at home for their private mail, as they can easily aggregate several mail accounts into one client. I been building/rebuilding a number of computers for friends lately, and the request to use Outlook came up several times.
I believe that IBM should create a "IBM Mail" client, with support for POP/IMAP/SMTP as well as direct support for Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo mail. Why not add Domino and Exchange support, to allow users to connect to work, without installing the full Notes client?
The client must be able to aggregate mail from multiple sources, and send mail using any of those services. When you compose a new mail, there should be a dropdown where you select Gmail, your ISP service or Yahoo mail (depending on what you have setup), the same way as it works on most smart phones today. If you reply to a mail, the service is was received on should be default, e.g. if the mail was received through one of my Gmail accountrs, the reply should be sent using the same account.
This client should look like Notes mail, contain a calendar, to-do, journal, perhaps an RSS feed and support for widgets. Why not throw in a couple of simple but useful applications? Show that "IBM Mail is not just mail". Strip away as much as possible when it comes to complicated menus, settings, etc. The properties/settings in the Notes client causes any normal user to get a headache instantly… Make it easy and quick to setup, and make it available as a free download, without any annoying registration. Most of all, make the client fast.
The market perception will not change overnight, but in the long run, showing that "IBM Mail" looks modern and has the functionality people need will benefit Notes.