Why IBM still matters…

Interesting coverage from Computerworld:

Opinion: Why IBM still matters

To read the headlines in the business and technical press during the last several years, you’d think that the once world-beating IBM had fallen off the face of the earth. Google, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft — those seem to be the names that garner all the publicity.

You might be surprised, then, to learn that IBM is flying high these days, a success as much driven by its forward-thinking services and software businesses as by its ability at the same time to milk its old cash cow, the mainframe line. Even as the rest of the economy tanked, recent launch of LotusLive iNotes, a cloud-based e-mail, calendaring and contact management system, shows why IBM still matters. IBM recognizes that for businesses of all sizes, cloud computing is the future, and it plans to be there in a very big way. LotusLive iNotes aims at taking away business from Microsoft’s Exchange as well as users of Google Apps Premier Edition. In years past, IBM would have sold the hardware that runs a system like LotusLive iNotes, rather than selling it as a service. But the company realized a decade ago that its future was in software and services rather than hardware, and it began selling off much of its lower-margin hardware businesses, while retaining mainframes. Those moves have paid off handsomely and could be even more profitable if companies do indeed opt for a cloud-based future.

IBM’s success has clearly gotten under the skin of its competitors, notably Microsoft, whose CEO, Steve Ballmer, went so far as to criticize IBM’s move away from hardware. He told The New York Times that “I.B.M.’s footprint is more narrow today than it was when I started. I am not sure that has been to the long-term benefit of their shareholders.”
(emphasis mine)

It’s great to see the mainstream tech media finally paying IBM some attention, discussing it in the same vein as Google and Microsoft, and most particularly that Bob Picciano, Ed Brill and the other Lotus executives are very publicly taking the fight to the other vendors and seem very ready to correct any misconceptions or inaccuracies they see in the news coverage.

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!