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More News on Lotus Symphony

Lotus Symphony, IBM’s new derivative of OpenOffice built on Eclipse technology and first released as a beta in September, has been updated with support for 24 languages.

The press release announces: “Downloaded for use in English by more than 400,000 individuals at work and at home, IBM’s Lotus Symphony suite ( of desktop office software is now available in 24 languages serving major markets worldwide.”

For a beta that’s only 4 months old, these are impressive download numbers. I expect that Symphony, with its native use of ODF, will help to grow the overall market of ODF-capable applications more than it will cannibalize OOo’s marketshare. (I believe Symphony is not open source, so many users will want to stick with OOo. But Symphony is free of cost, and has a very attractive UI, which will entice many others to adopt it.)

Not only is Symphony designed for a global market, but it’s also engineered as a global product: “IBM has employed innovative development techniques in the development and translation of Lotus Symphony. Lotus Symphony was developed by a global network of IBM laboratories led by a core team in Beijing, China using agile development techniques that allow work to continue seamlessly and in parallel on components of the product at all times.”

If I were IBM, my strategy to spread Symphony now would be to leverage OEM bundling. Clearly there’s a lot of interest from end users who are downloading it, but to really impact the market, IBM should enlist their old friends at Lenovo to install Symphony on every computer they ship. Leverage that to encourage other PC makers to follow suit, and then marketshare will climb extremely fast! IBM, and all users of ODF, will benefit.

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