by Volker Weber

Ed posted about a "momentum" press release (linked below as last in the list). It's about the fact that Lotus has sold 145 million notes licenses to date, not to be confused with the number of active Notes users.* If those numbers in the press releases can be trusted, it pays to look at older releases and chart out the numbers:

I have put them into a spreadsheet, created an x/y Chart and added a linear trend line:


If we disregard the two anomalies, it is a pretty steady line, selling about seven million licenses per year over the last four years. If you go further left, this trend line would hit zero twenty years ago, when Notes was first released. Sales of course were different from that trend line. There was exponential growth below the trend line until it flattened out.

The number that makes me curious is this:

Over the past 15 months ending in the third quarter of 2008, more than 12,000 new organizations bought their first Notes/Domino licenses

The last number of Notes customers I can remember was "42,000" customers. Easy to remember, eh? :-) And now one quarter more? So is it now 54,000? IBM does not say that. They do not report former customers who are no longer customers. Of course IBM could suddenly sell to much smaller customers, but that is also not likely.

*) That is a carefully crafted myth to confuse people who don't question the numbers they are being served. Example:

More than 145 million corporate employees are using IBM's Lotus Notes e-mail software

Another one fell for it. You will find the next trap in the next sentence. Can you spot it?


Great chart. Definitely useful to call Lotus out on some of the numbers they toss out there without much data to back them up. But I suppose an alternative question could be, "Who's numbers do you trust more, Lotus or Microsoft?"

As for your question, I wonder if anybody really knows how many licenses of Lotus there are in use at any given. Lotus may only be counting customers on active maintenance.

To bad Lotus doesn't have an amnesty period, where everyone for 30 days (or whatever) could get back on maintenance at no cost. That would sure make that chart jump a bit!

Michael Sobczak, 2009-01-15 20:14

Lotus of course knows the number of customers on maintenance, but that number is not available. I have a good idea of what it looks like, but since I cannot quote anybody, I am not going to toss it around.

As Ed has just commented on his own site, the number of licenses sold and the number of new customers are not correlated, and they do not even cover the same time period. They were just "good" numbers to present. With most of the US press that works well.

I just like to track numbers presented and put them in perspective.

Volker Weber, 2009-01-15 20:22

@Michael: In fact there is an amnesty period. It is just not announced officially: You can renew your licenses in 30 days after the expiration date! Check this with your distributor.

goran angelov, 2009-01-15 21:42

So the 145 million number is just number of licenses sold over the life of the product? I didn't even understand what Ed meant when he said the numbers were not correlated. I thought he was referring to new licenses and new customers since I was talking about.

So basically they're saying "we sold a lot of licenses over the last 20 years". And the point is...

Charles Robinson, 2009-01-15 21:56

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Ceci n'est pas un blog is a personal website published by Volker Weber a.k.a. vowe. I am an author, consultant and systems architect based in Darmstadt, Germany.

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