What's the Notes market share really like?

by Volker Weber

IBM's message is pretty consistent. They have sold 140 million seats since Notes was released, and there are currently 65k customers using Notes or Domino. IBM also says that more than half of the global 100 corporations use Lotus Notes and Domino software.

IBM does not say how many users Notes currently has, and the number of customers also does not give a good indication how many Notes users there may be. IBM would certainly like you to believe that Notes commands an equal share of the business email space. Since IBM often talks about "enterprise" and "large" customers, there is a belief, that large customers prefer Notes, whereas Exchange is often found in the SMB space.

When Apple announced Exchange support for the iPhone (and OS X 10.6), lots of people claimed that Apple would be missing out "on the other half" of enterprise customers.

In the light of these assumptions I find Jim Bernardo's comment on edbrill.com interesting:

84 of the Fortune 100, and 71 of the Global 100 use Exchange as their email system. That's not folks thinking about it, and that's not mixed shops. That's companies using Exchange for all of their employees who have email.

Jim goes on to explain, that by a wide definition of "use Lotus Notes and Domino software" even Microsoft would be a Notes customer.

So my question is: how large is the Notes market share really?


Maybe you should ask Jim. :-)

Vitor Pereira, 2008-06-24

Unfortunately, IBM does not market Notes/Domino well enough. But that's no supprise if you know IBM long enough. I personally like Notes/Domino very much, but if IBM does not massively increase the visibility, this great product may end on the same graveyard as OS/2.

Andy Brunner, 2008-06-24

Ferris Research came in up with these figures:

Notes/Domino has about 10% market share across all organizations. It is at its strongest in manufacturing and financial industries, with more than 55% market share in manufacturing industries with at least 5,000 employees. Among health care industries with at least 2,500 employees, it has a roughly 25% market share.

Lucius Bobikiewicz, 2008-06-24

Completing the above quote from the Ferris Research Report it might be interesting to follow also the intering remarks from Mike Lazar on Ferris:
"The numbers I mention in the previous post are based on several years of meeting with customers. I can assure you that Domino has a much larger market share in the enterprise than 10%. 10% is akin to the share that GroupWise, Oracle, or POP/IMAP has, and we all know that is not the case."

...and not to forget:

'the only statistics you can trust are those you falsified yourself'
Winston Churchill

Claus Bäumler, 2008-06-24

IDC issued a report in July 2007 that illustrates Notes/Domino increased its share of the integrated collaborative environments market last year to 40 percent , up from 39 percent in 2005. Outlook/Exchange's share of the $2.4 billion market slipped to 51 percent from 53 percent over that same period.

IDC 2007 : EXCHANGE = 51 % , DOMINO 40 %

The latest IDC numbers show Exchange at (and I’m going off of memory here, so I might be off by a point or 2) about 48% market share, and Domino at about 43%. The remaining scraps were held by POP/IMAP, GroupWise, Oracle, and others.

Sven Meirte, 2008-06-24

I don't see why you are constantly dismissive of the number of customers stat. I certainly think any ibm product in use at tens of thousands of companies is and continues to be a safe bet.

Jim's statistic is flat out wrong. Many of the F100 are mixed environments. You know some of these in your own work. Only 16 are Notes shops? Please, your readers go to Lotusphere and other events and meet the people from these companies.

Ferris's share research was deeply flawed in its methodology and I've told him so. They surveyed companies on their own mailing list, not exactly a random sample. And they counted each company as equally having one "share", regardless of size. No statistician would validate their approach.

So that leaves IDC, who measure share for all it products -- hardware and software. That seems like it would be a reliable enough methodology to trust.

Ed Brill, 2008-06-24

@Lucius: I think the public extracts from Ferris report need a little closer scrutiny.

The public extracts could be a technical accurate representation of their results, but could still be quite misleading in regards to the actual number of Notes seats.

When they say that 10% of the 917 organisations surveyed used Notes, this could still represent 40%+ of the actual seats (or higher)?

Report says "Almost all organizations with up to 49 employees are on
Exchange 2007". In that case it would be pretty meaningless to give equal weight to these companies and to the ones at the other end of the spectrum with 10's to 100's of thousands of seats per organisation (avg size of org in survey = 11,000+).

David Ferris admits in his response to Mike Lazar that "In the enterprise, Notes/Domino has a much higher penetration"

Without knowing the methodology used, and how they selected the organisations, there would also be a question mark there.

@Claus - I like the Churchill quote

Richard Hogan, 2008-06-24

90% of all statistics can be made to say anything you want -- at least 50% of the time. ;-)

Mike Eckert, 2008-06-24

Dilbert and numbers. :)

Marc Petermax, 2008-06-24

I freely admit not knowing Ferris' methodology and how it was actually applied. I just throwed it in as one source we might together look at.

What I see on my own tiny radar screen is this:

a) The percentage of enterprises using Notes seems to be much higher than those by Ferris

b) On the other hand the labor market seems to be very small. Check out any freelancer marketplaces and job marketplaces such as monster.com. You will find significantly less job offers for Domino admins or Notes developers than for Exchange. I think this tells us some truth.

c) There is an interesting number game in Ferris' data: They claim to have covered 10.5 million employees representing 2% of the workforce in developed countries. If this figures are right the total workforce is about 525 Million people. Counting 10% of this for Notes/Domino would represent a current user base of 52 millions.

And based on the 140 millions IBM claims having sold in total the ~50 million current users here and today would be right within the range I provided if I had to work out an informed guess. So may be Ferris finally isn't that wrong ?

However, this is just playing with numbers. I think IBM should disclose the real numbers as it is done in many industries everything else raises unnecessary questions.

Lucius Bobikiewicz, 2008-06-24

I don't see why

That should be easy. I am curious. And when I see contradictions, I ask questions.

Each and every vendor will choose its statistics so that they come out as a leader. Apple claims leadership always by using US shares, while Nokia certainly does not. I have been watching IBM long enough to have some good data points from the late 90s when each Lotusphere set new records of licenses sold.

When we are looking at "mixed" customers, there are two scenarios:

One part of the company uses Exchange, another part uses Domino
The customer uses Exchange for Mail and Domino for applications (I don't think the opposite exists)

The first scenario happens when one companies buys another. It's sometimes called a merger, but most of the times it's an acquisition.

The second scenario is the interesting one. Would you count them as an Exchange shop or as a Domino shop? Is Accenture an Exchange or a Domino customer? Can IBM have over 50% of the Global 100 and Microsoft over 80%. It looks like they can.

Volker Weber, 2008-06-24

Volker, there are Domino mail shops using the MS Stack for apps (Sharepoint, etc). Since Exchange doesn't have an app model outside the add-ins in Outlook, I think that is a fair opposite number to compare to, and it indeed exists.

John Head, 2008-06-24

Well, according to both companies, I am a user of their product. To Microsoft, I am an Exchange user and counted as such. To IBM I am a Domino user and counted as such. Nobody asked me, they just counted products for which I have a legal right to be a user.

"Two men say they're Jesus, one of them must be wrong. There's a protest singer, he's singing a protest song..."

-- Mark Knopfler, Dire Straights - from the song "Industrial Disease"

Andrew Pollack, 2008-06-24

Andrew, so you also count as one of 65k customers. :-)

John, thanks for reminding me. There are indeed some customers who went with Sharepoint instead of Quickr. Does Microsoft claim them as an Exchange customer?

Volker Weber, 2008-06-24

@Volker - re: Sharepoint users as Exchange customers -- I suspect so. It is hard for a corporation to use "Just" sharepoint without also having purchased a block of stuff that's usually going to include Exchange in the bundle. SQL Server, 64 bit windows os, etc.

Andrew Pollack, 2008-06-24

I think IBMs numbers for Notes sales concern me most when you think about Small Businesses.

There are 6 million businesses in the US with less than 500 employees, 6 million! IBM has 65,000 customers worldwide, work out that share.

Carl Tyler, 2008-06-24

Despite the fact that we're a purely Notes (and Sametime and Quickr) enterprise shop, I'm sure Microsoft counts us as Exchange and Sharepoint because those servers are in our ELA. It's cheaper for us that way (the mind boggles at the licensing logic sometimes).

Of course, using the same logic, IBM could count us as a Portal customer, because there have been Portal licenses in our ELA for years, even though we've never used them.

Rob McDonagh, 2008-06-24

Yes Volker, I bet they do. As Rob says, much of the licensing is done via Enterprise Agreements by every vendor. Most customers using Sharepoint today have some level of license for it in their EA .. which is why it spread like wildfire. Not a judgement on the product, but a comment on how MS has leveraged the Office/Windows licensing to breed Sharepoint. Damn smart strategy from where I sit. Others just consider it to be 'evil'

John Head, 2008-06-24

Didn't Notes include a Workplace license a little while back? For some reason that didn't spread like wildfire.

Carl Tyler, 2008-06-24

@Carl, true .. but it was not FileShare 2.0 ... don't get me wrong, I think SP has legs and is being used everywhere, but the majority of implementations is a replacement for the networking file share with some company branding around it. That will change with time, and some great people are doing more with it now. But just like anything, there are SP success stories and failures.

If someone can mix the ease of extending something like SP with a secure but cloud like application that integrates on the same protocol as SP does with Office and Outlook (cough webdav and web services cough) then it could put a huge dent in the SP market.

John Head, 2008-06-24

So IBM only needs to name more than 16 Fortune 500 companies that at least in parts use Notes for mail to prove that Jim Bernardo is wrong? Is there really such a big secret what mail system a Fortune 100 runs? I mean both products by default are tagging their messages and you will find public references for many of them just googling for mail headers (at least that is what I tried with WalMart and some other).
I do not doubt that you will find some people that believe that Notes has 42% market share. On how to achieve this with 65.000 customers remains a secret to me but at least nowadays hardly anyone doubt that Exchange is leading the messaging market. This was obviously not the case some years ago and IBM seem to have lost millions of accounts over to Microsoft. What a pity.

Henning Heinz, 2008-06-25

In truth if we're going to question numbers, who is to say we should believe or dismiss either IBM or Microsoft's claims?

After all Microsoft and Jim have just as much reason to use fuzzy math to come up with a number as IBM does. And honestly the Sharepoint numbers they've been tossing about are certainly some bit of fiction if I ever saw such a thing.

We do have IBM's growth statements of the Lotus brand, so there is that bit of information to go on, and because it's more or less public information once IBM files it's regulatory statements there is some validation available if you trust how the growth numbers are calculated.

Otherwise, it's independent research that we have to turn to I suppose, and there is some debate as to how that's gathered & analyzed as well.

I think that perhaps the fact that some of us in the Lotus community are more apt to take the position of Devil's advocate, or rather claiming to be the voice of reason and not drinking the kool-aide, taints the discussion in and of itself.

In fact the kool-aide from IBM is the same as that from Microsoft, just a different color.

Kevin Mort, 2008-06-25

Having worked for IBM I can tell you what I "discovered".

1. IBM is a bureaucracy, you should read this book - http://www.amazon.com/Big-Blues-Unmaking-Paul-Carroll/dp/0517882213 , one of the reasons I left IBM was because of what I read in this book - they seem to make one mistake after another.

2. IBM bought Lotus, because they had an old email system OV ( Office Vision - Green screen - no attachments etc. ) & they needed an email system to replace it, so they could become a Exchange user or they could buy Lotus - easy decision.

3. IBM just don't care about the Accounts they are losing, Microsoft have 100's of staff in various Oz Government Departments working for ( free - yes $0 cost ) to "replace" notes applications.

Nigel Grant, 2008-06-25

There is a list of these top companies on:


See if you come to more than 29 companies from the top 100 on this list that use Lotus Notes for email.

I calculated:

26 that use Lotus Notes
19 that use MS Exchange
49 that use both Lotus Notes & MS Exchange
1 Unknown

See what you come up with?

Ian Randall, 2008-06-25

thank you for the list but I really care about user numbers.

cheers marco

marco foellmer, 2008-06-26

Hi Ian, can you list out the companies name clearly. Thanks.

Norlailawati Zain, 2008-08-28

I'm not a Lotus user but I do have a research question for a piece I'm writing.

Lotus Notes appears to have a default setting of "Reply with Attachment" (rather than just "Reply" as the default). While this can be altered in preferences a lot of users either don't now how to or are simply too lazy to do so. Same goes for the IT support behind them. (I do acknowledge some Document Management Systems might find this facility useful. Mostly, it's not very helpful though).

So here's what I'm trying to calculate: how many Petabytes of data is clogging the internet due to this default setting.

In my own case one single (government) client of mine (about 5 seats) sent me 2GB of unnecessary data in the course of a year simply by omitting to select Reply rather than Reply to Sender.

Makes you wonder, eh!

Acryus Frolpang, 2011-06-21

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