Why Traveler on Symbian is important

I should give it its proper branded name… IBM Lotus Notes Traveler. There you go, that keeps the brand police happy. As you know, IBM Lotus are the software brand that gives you choice. You can use a BlackBerry, you can use Windows Mobile (with Traveler and with other solutions such as CommonTime, DME and Intellisync), you can use Symbian devices, and you can use an iPhone (with iNotes Ultralite).

IBM Lotus Domino 8.5 is very close to shipping, and one of the many new goodies is Traveler support for various Nokia devices running the Symbian operating system. A contact from a very well-known and valued Lotus customer (hi Richard) recently asked me “which devices does that cover?” – you can find the answer here, and the answer is “lots of devices”.

So why is this so important? Well, choice is important and at Lotus we like giving you choices. IBM Lotus Notes on Windows, Mac or Linux. Domino on a whole range of server platforms. It costs more to develop, but we think you’re worth it.

The other reason it’s important is that, if you look at that range of Nokia devices, people in many organisations will already have those devices in their hands. So the cost of enabling mobile e-mail and calendars may turn out to be lower than you think.

And the other other reason is market share. This surprised me when I saw it yesterday. According to Gartner (December 2008) Symbian devices accounted for 49.8% of smartphone devices shipped worldwide in the 3rd quarter of 2008. RIM (i.e. BlackBerry) were next with 15.9% followed by “Mac OS X” with 12.9%. Does that mean iPhone? Probably. Windows Mobile took 11.1% of the market, Linux devices took 7.2%, and the one-time giant of PDAs, Palm, took just 2.1%. So, Symbian was the clear market leader, and thus my title is vindicated.


  1. I heard later on from IBM that the reason was not that IBM Lotus wouldn’t have done it, but Symbian didn’t want to cooperate.

    Anyway, Symbian won’t be much longer on the market, as more sophisticated mobile platforms are already available like iPhone’s UNIX (MacOSX) variant, and also Nokia has reacted and made a palmtop with Linux OS. Soon all Nokia phones will run on Linux, and the painful era of Symbian is finally over.

  2. “Symbian didn’t want to cooperate” – I can tell you categorically, there is absolutely no truth in that. We have an excellent relationship with Symbian, and I was personally on calls between Symbian and our Product Management team. Sorry, that’s complete rubbish.

  3. Well, that’s what I heard from our local IBM representative. I need to tell them that it was rubbish then 🙂
    Now if I try to remember what they said, it could be also that the problem was Nokia. It had to do with somekind of difficulty to get a contract done.

    But anyway, IBM said that Traveller will work on Symbians/Nokias in some coming release, so it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that it works on all mobile phones.

  4. Just dropped my Blackberry Storm for a Nokia E71, so I hope you’re right. The expense of BES will be enough to get more Americans to take notice, so now we just need Traveler to live up to its promise and we’ll have a hit on our hands.

    I have to say I was surprised by the scale of Symbian’s dominance in the marketplace. I find the OS at times labyrinthine in terms of complexity when it comes to figuring out where certain functionality is controlled, so I’m a little worried about user acceptance in a corporate setting. I bought an unlocked model which has lots of bits that I’ll probably never use, so maybe the models sold through US wireless providers will have some of that stuff stripped out to minimize confusion.

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