Messaging and Collaboration Server Market Share and Trends

In an IBM press release last week, it was suggested that Lotus Notes/Domino has taken a bite out of Microsoft's market share in the corporate messaging arena. Maybe it was just to draw attention to this week's Lotusphere 2009 conference. Microsoft has replied with a press release done as an interview with their own David Scult, a General Manager in the Information Workers division, entitled Making Sense of the Messaging and Collaboration Market.

Lotus is still big in the enterprise market. As IBM indicates, Lotus Notes/Domino is used in over 50% of the largest 100 companies in the United States. Microsoft notes that Lotus was once in 2/3 of the Fortune 100, so 50% is not as impressive as it sounds. All the while, Yahoo!'s Zimbra Collaboration Suite claims to have sold over 20 millions client licenses over 30,000 companies.

The IBM article claims that Lotus has experienced solid growth for several quarters. That is believable certainly. Lotus Notes 8.x and Domino 8.x represent a great step forward, especially on the Notes side. The Notes client has drastically increased its usability. What is challenging to believe is that the gains that Lotus has experienced is somehow greater than the increases witnessed by Microsoft with Exchange Server.

Identifying software market share is not an exact science. It is a combination of vendor sales numbers, company surveys and some semi-informed analysis. Is there a guarantee that firms are being honest in answering surveys? When a company moves from one application to another, do the licenses no longer in use get deducted magically from the vendor's claimed total? Do the vendors share accurate sales information? Is market share based on number of user/client licenses? Number of companies that have invested in the product? Number of servers? What if we only count companies with more than 500 users?

Overall, the Exchange vs Notes market share debate seems more of a marketing public relations exercise than an accurate assessment of messaging solutions deployed in the market. It reminds me of the classic book "How to Lie With Statistics" by Darrell Huff (it should be part of the high school curriculum). Personally, when faced with a choice of products, I like vendors to focus more on the benefits of their own product and not maintain a primary marketing strategy of denigrating the competition.

Interestingly, the Microsoft Press Pass interview lists Coca-Cola Enterprises as an Exchange Server customer and the IBM press release boasts that the Coca-Cola Company is a Lotus Domino client. I wonder if those are the same?

William Lefkovics

William Lefkovics on January 19, 2009 at 10:13 PM in News
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I am not sure i understand your point,so the way Microsoft reports their wins is fair and the way Lotus reports it is unfair?

During the last 5 years Microsoft has been selling Enterprise Agreements to Lotus NOTES/DOMINO Customers including the Core CAL which includes Exchange and even though you do not really win the account nor the customer uses Exchange, as Exchange was part of the deal you are counting those licenses as new seats, and the analysts have not seen this? Isn't this an unfair way to count NEW Seats?

Posted by: MS Customer at Jan 20, 2009 11:49:13 AM

I am not saying either is 'fair'. I'm also questioning the 'research' firms as well. I suggest that these companies declare market share numbers only when it is beneficial to them. IBM plays the anti-microsoft card far more than the other way around. (I wonder the percentage of Domino/Notes seats are deployed on Windows versus Linux.)

I would further suggest in choosing the best solution for a company should ignore marketing claims of market share, real or perceived, and focus on how the individual and current versions of the potential applications fits the company's needs in terms of features and cost. Obviously, the answer is not the same in every case.

Posted by: William Lefkovics at Jan 20, 2009 3:42:44 PM

The Coca Cola company is the global creator/owner of various brands of drinks, etc. Coca Cola Enterprises is a bottler and distributor of those brands, and is partially owned by The Coca Cola Company.

Posted by: Richard Schwartz at Jan 23, 2009 6:31:09 AM

Thanks, Richard.

Posted by: William Lefkovics at Jan 23, 2009 2:04:03 PM

Ok. The market share doesn't matter (Obviously Exchange lost there!). The most important are features and cost, that's right. Microsoft lost again because if you want to do everything you can do with Notes/Domino using Microsoft products need Outlook, Exchange server, Sharepoint, Live Communicator, .NET, etc. Would we think that many more products to reach the same infrastructure of tech services are cheaper than IBM Lotus Notes/Domino...??? ...Sorry my friend! Exchange lost again and again. Don't try to hide the sun with one finger.

Posted by: Aniel Montoya at May 13, 2009 1:52:50 PM

Sorry Aniel, this claim of "Obviously Exchange lost there" in terms of market share is unsubstantiated. It is easy to make market share claims with speculative approximations of numbers based on surveys and sales. In practice I see a lot of Notes to Exchange migrations. I see very few the other way around. It is such a big deal that Ed Brill has to stop and take note on his blog/twit feed that one company migrated 1500 mailboxes.

Sometimes Notes is the best choice for companies. Often it is not.

Posted by: William Lefkovics at May 19, 2009 8:13:32 PM

Great post, by the way!

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