To follow up on yesterday's post regarding IBM's Lotus Symphony, I thought I'd share an International Herald Tribune story that, along with reader feedback and other blog posts, shed light on my questions.
In "The End User: Tough Week for Microsoft vs. Competition," writer Victoria Shannon indicates that the fight is not just Microsoft Office vs. Lotus Symphony. Part of it is also Microsoft formats vs. OpenDocument Format:
All of these - Google Docs, StarOffice, OpenOffice and Lotus Symphony - can read documents in the Microsoft Word formats, which is the most important feature for consumers and corporate customers. But because their roots are in the open-source community, their specialty is something heavily promoted by IBM called OpenDocument Format, or ODF, whose underlying coding is designed to be "open" to change.
And promoting that standard is one of the reasons behind Lotus Symphony. "There is nothing that advances a standard like a product that uses it," according to IBM SVP Steven Mills.
News.com's Matt Asay also points to a CIO.com article indicating that IBM's release of Symphony is an acknowledgement that "a dramatic shift in how enterprises buy and consume software" is on its way:
In offering Symphony for free, IBM basically acknowledges that the monetization of software by vendors must change since we now live in a world where the web has become people's IT department. New technology providers...have been effective at offering applications for free on the web. They make their money later on by offering a spiced up, or even an enterprise worthy, version of the software for a modest fee. If it's purely consumer-based, they also can subsidize their experience with ads.