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Report: Groupware market doubles

The worldwide market for collaborative systems, led by Lotus, doubled in 1997 to reach 50 million new users.

Driven by broad market support for Internet standards and increasing business reliance on groupware products, the worldwide market for collaborative systems doubled in 1997, according to a report by the International Data Corporation.

The study, released yesterday, put Lotus Development's Domino/Notes at the head of the 50 million new user market followed by Microsoft Exchange, Novell GroupWise, and Netscape SuiteSpot.

Although Lotus commands the market, the authors of the report said they were surprised at the speed at which Microsoft has shrunk the gap between its Exchange and Lotus Domino/Notes.

"It's already in range of catching up with Lotus in terms of new users," said Mark Levitt, an analyst with IDC and an author of the study. "But Lotus is still way ahead in terms of total users." In fact, Novell is even ahead of Microsoft in total users, holding second place in 1997.

The news supports another report released earlier this week that said Lotus was indeed loosing ground in the new user market. Electronic Mail & Messaging Systems (EMMS), a biweekly newsletter, reported that 3.5 million Exchange client licenses were sold worldwide during the first quarter of 1998, compared to 2.7 million Lotus Notes licenses sold during the same period.

Levitt said assuming those numbers are correct, the report does reveal great momentum by Microsoft in the new user market.

In looking at the groupware industry as a whole, IDC expects worldwide revenues to reach more than $2.4 billion by 2002, up from $1.3 billion in 1997.

As a result of the growing groupware market, the report noted a declining market for email and other information sharing products as more and more users demand network or Web-centric collaborative systems. It also said group calendaring, scheduling, and electronic conferencing products demonstrated double-digit revenue growth worldwide in 1997.