The Lotus Community Echo Chamber and the Apple iPhone 3G: Part 1 - A hard look at the community

June 10 2008

Out of all of the discussion yesterday around the Microsoft Exchange support coming for the iPhone and OS X Snow Leopard (10.6) is that Apple is not hearing from IBM customers. For the sake of this post, let's pretend we all agree that is 100% accurate. So if that is the case, how do we make Apple hear us?

So the next question we have to ask ourselves is how much communication does Apple need to hear? Let's look at that issue closer.

First, there are 266 blogs on PlanetLotus. Since that includes some IBM blog, we get closer to 230 of non-IBM employee blogs. Not a bad number, but who do those blogs represent? As I can thru the list of blogs, at least two-thirds of those are Lotus Business Partners. Those blogs are the important foundation of our on-line community, but do they represent the important voices IBM needs? We all know that PAYING customers are the voice that get things done in the real-world. How many customers are blogging and represented on PlanetLotus? This is not an accurate count, but I believe it is between 20 and 40.

Every one of us has a number associated to us. That number is the amount of revenue that contributes to the IBM bottom line. Do not kid yourself ... this is the real world and revenue is what matters. We have customers small and large, but for the most part ... very few customers. Someone like John Roling probably has more value as an administrator at a medium sized company in the Chicago area than he does as Greyhawk the blogger and John the writer at Intranet Journal. Why? Because John the administrator drives revenue.

And do not think IBM is alone. Microsoft works the same way. So goes Google, except they see each person and company as 'how many ad imprints will they give us?' ... At the end of the day the bills have to be paid and the shareholders have to be happy.

So instead of arguing that, let's turn it in our favor. We have to reach out to more customers to help drive our message.

Looking at the two efforts around Apple and IBM coming together to give us Domino support on the iPhone, let's check the numbers.

First, we have IdeaJam. Love IdeaJam ...

Awesome idea ... but 83 votes for a +80 score. 83 votes? 83 votes is not going to convince anyone to do anything.

Then we have the iPetition that Nathan Freeman set up yesterday. Again, great idea. Current count at 10:11 AM Central time today is 154. I see roughly 20 Anonymous votes, which will get discounted immediately. So let's call that 125 signed as of now. And we have the problem where anyone can use any name to sign it ... see the Bill Gates entry there? They should have some way to make those signatures more accurate.

No bashing of Bruce or Nathan or the efforts they have started here, but those numbers are a joke. We need THOUSANDS of requests here to have any impact. We can not do that unless we break the bubble our community has become and get people signing and voting. I will come to some ideas on how we do that later today.

Last thought here ... as much as IBM says they hear us and we need to talk with Apple, we need to pressure IBM as well. Every person who is a customer, contact your support rep. If you have Premium Support, contact your PSM. Every partner should contact their BP rep. Same for the ISVs. We need to make noise, polite and to the point of course, to IBM and Apple.

One request with this entry: Yancy, can you give us some statistics on the number of unique visitors you get at PlanetLotus? We know the number of blogs but number of hits and unique visitors would be good numbers to know.