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IBM Lotus Software took its first step into the consumer market Thursday when it revealed that Terra Lycos would build an instant-messaging service based on Lotus' Sametime app. The new IM client, which is expected to debut as a free download by the end of the year, could put Lotus technology in front of as many as 116 million people who visit Terra Lycos' global family of Web sites each month.
The Terra Lycos IM tool won't look anything like the corporate version of Sametime, says Mike Loria, director of Lotus' advanced collaboration group. But the functionality will be based on Sametime, and the deal opens the possibility of companies working with Terra Lycos on ways to market directly to consumers who adopt the Terra Lycos IM client.
Improved IM interoperability was a key consideration of the agreement, Loria says, but the ability for Terra Lycos IM users to communicate with corporate Sametime users will be controlled by the IT managers running those Sametime installations. "The roadway is set," Loria says. "But access to the roadway will still be secured."
Terra Lycos plans to sell versions with enhanced functionality and performance some time next year.