How Does IBM’s New, Hosted Email Stack Up to Gmail?

[qi:012] [qi:004] Following Om’s report on the new iNotes email service from Lotus, a division of IBM, we decided to reach out to Google and see how that company feels the new service compares to Gmail. Like Gmail, iNotes is a hosted service, one that supports webmail POP3, IMAP and IMAP IDLE for mobile devices. Lotus is charging $3.75 a month, competitive with the cost of a Gmail Pro account, but a Gmail Pro account comes with 25GB of storage while iNotes’ storage is a mere 1 GB. Google spokesman Andrew Kovacs gave us some thoughts on other differences between the two services.

“First, at a high level, we’re excited by this news because it’s further validation that things are moving toward the cloud,” Kovacs said. “But it’s not on par with Google Apps. [iNotes is] designed to supplement office email instead of replace it, which doesn’t bring the reduction in cost and complexity and other full benefits of cloud computing. [IBM’s] data sheet says that it is for users who do not need full-fledged collaboration.”

Kovacs also pointed to what he said were Gmail’s adjunct and mobile advantages compared to Lotus iNotes, among them integrated voice and video chat, robust support for mobile devices, platforms and applications, and more.

IBM’s Lotus Notes, the company’s enterprise, non-cloud-based email platform,  has a high number of paid mailboxes — some 145 million — in use. It’s possible that IBM intends iNotes to be more of a cloud-based adjunct to Notes than a competitor for Gmail.  At this point, for most users of hosted email, I’d say that Gmail has a number of advantages over it.