Without digging into Notes much, Ed points out on his blog, that he's done a survey that makes this idea that Outlook Express at home is how people are used to working less valid. A few things come to my mind as I read what he wrote. Usually, I'd respond on his blog site but to be honest I didn't want what I had to say to be lost in the noise over there this time around.
Regardless of his survey method being decidedly self referential -- There's validity in its results if you look at them in the right light. I see a few distinctly different groups of users now for home email.
Group 1: The Tech Savvy -- Not just the geek set, but the growing "tech middle class"
People who are at least a little tech savvy or who use their accounts for home based businesses are switching away from Outlook Express pretty quickly. They're going with Gmail, Yahoo, and similar services. Others are keeping their POP accounts provided by ISP's but are starting to access them with Blackberrys. I'm actually seeing a shocking number of personal end users who prefer to use a Blackberry as their consumer telephone. Of these, many are using it as their primary email access method.
Group 2: The Office Workers at Home
This is the group with the biggest recent change. The move in the last few years has been to put all knowledge workers in the company onto laptops with VPN remote access. That used to be a I.T. crowd or executive perk, but not any more. Its pretty much everybody now. These people have moved to using their work email address for the vast majority of communication. If they have another account, they use it specifically for things they don't want work to know about. That means job hunting, porn surfing, spouse cheating, and dirty jokes. For them, the second account is virtually always Gmail or Yahoo mail. They don't want their home ISP account associated with those activities either. They treat that second account as their throw-away email.
Group 3: The Twelve O'Clock Flashers
Then there's the true home consumer end-user. This is grandma communicating with family and an army of soccer moms. They're still on Outlook Express because someone set it up for them with their Windows 95 account several years ago. If they've upgraded their computers, they just moved to what they already knew and stayed with OE. If they're using Thunderbird, its an outdated version someone set up for them because they were told it was safer than using OE. (BTW: A Twelve O'Clock Flasher refers to those people who's VCR -- now DVD -- clocks still flash 12:00 because they don't know how to change them). Apple has hurt the OE market as well. Consumers at home are buying Apple computers at a terrific rate, and those users are of course not using OE.
This Doesn't Really Respond to what the Notes Client is missing
No matter if the trend is away from OE and toward web based services, there are things the Notes client is missing that almost every other software offers. Higher fidelity MIME and HTML mail sending and reading is a big one, and full support for "Identities" is the other. People have more than one account now. The Notes client doesn't accommodate that well. It lets you pull in your email from many accounts if you want, but your replies always go out using whatever you've set up for your Notes ID. Switching "Identities" requires you to do something like change your Notes Client "Location" -- but that's a heavy overhead task and doesn't work well if you're swapping back and forth throughout the day.
So, IBM, Its great that OE is losing ground -- and there is no question that the mail in Notes is getting better with every release. The latest iNotes (Web Mail) is fantastic, and kudos are due for that work. But it doesn't mean that work is even close to finished yet. Keep going, and keep looking at how the USERS want to work -- not just how their I.T. directors want them to work.
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