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IBM Back To Drawing Board With Sametime, Quickplace

Sametime instant messaging and Quickplace Web conferencing are reverting to those labels after a disastrous attempt at rebranding.

IBM's wisely reversing course on its instant messaging and Web conferencing branding.

Sametime IM and Quickplace Web conferencing are reverting to those labels after a disastrous attempt at change.

Nearly two years ago, some genius decided that "IBM Lotus Instant Messaging" and "IBM Lotus Team Workplace" were somehow snappier, more intuitive monikers than Sametime and Quickplace.

How can a company that fields so many bright people also retain such dim bulbs? When it comes to product names and executive titles, there seem to be people at Big Blue with far too much time on their hands. (For more, mostly gleeful reaction on the reversal, see Ed Brill's Web log.) Not that IBM Software's Lotus group (or whatever they're calling themselves now) is alone. Microsoft has commited its fair share of sins as well, a fact hilariously illustrated at last week's Tech Ed 2005 in Orlando.

A Product Management Person—who shall remain nameless—was taunting reporters in the press room with two versions of an as-yet-unreleased press release. (Is unreleased press release an oxymoron? Or just a PR black hole?) The debate was which of the two was better and he was kind of soliciting input.

One reporter volunteered that it might be nice if Microsoft press releases actually said something for a change. The joke has become how much turgid prose and market-speak you have to go through before getting to the meat. To his credit—Mr. Product Management Type wholeheartedly and obstreperously agreed, citing unnamed marketing schmoes as the culprits behind the tarted-up releases.

None other than Microsoft honcho Steve Ballmer seems to concur as well. In his keynote, Ballmer introduced the not-so-stunningly named Exchange 2003 Service Pack 2 and Messaging and Security Feature Pack for Windows 5. He paused, peered into the audience and noted: "Some people say Microsoft is a good marketing company; I have a hard time saying all that."


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