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Oracle checks Kona out

Oracle is talking to Lotus Development about bundling Lotus's new Java productivity applets, code-named Kona, with Oracle's InterOffice groupware.

Oracle (ORCL) is talking to IBM (IBM) subsidiary Lotus Development about bundling Lotus's new Java productivity applets, code-named Kona, with Oracle's InterOffice groupware.

Lotus spokesman Adam Banker characterized the initiative as part of Lotus's efforts to support Sun Microsystems' Java programming language.

Officials at Oracle declined comment on the talks. But analysts say that bundling the Kona components may jump-start InterOffice's lukewarm reception from corporate IS buyers.

Eric Brown, an analyst at Forrester Research said bringing Lotus's user-friendly interface to Oracle InterOffice's strong document management features may yield a product that could be very attractive to corporate clients and could even compete with document management specialty products from companies such as Saros and PCDocs.

"The combination of an Oracle back office and a Lotus user interface is a pretty good match," Brown said.

Still unclear is how the potential deal will effect Oracle's own Java productivity application, code-named Hat Trick, which is scheduled to roll out next month as part of InterOffice 4.1.

Hat Trick has already gone through a major revision. Originally envisioned as a trio of separate applets--word processor, presentation graphics, and spreadsheet--Oracle now has a more modest plan, with only one applet in the works that combines the word processor and graphics tools.

The Kona suite includes a spreadsheet, a project scheduler, chart, calendar, word processor, presentation graphics, and email. Currently in beta testing, it is set to ship in late summer.