At IBM ConnectED in January IBM promised that all attendees would get early access to the next generation web-based email presented at the conference, IBM Verse. Jeff Schick initially promised it for february, but after several emails where the attendees were offered to sign up, it got very very quiet. Today the real invitation finally arrived in my mailbox, and I signed up. After signing up I was told it would take up to a day before my mailbox would be setup and available, but after about 30 minutes I got the welcome email.
What I noticed is that there are a number of functions not working or not available yet. This is something one would expect of a beta product, so not something I react negative to, even if it would have been nice to see a more polished product being introduced, even if it just labeled “IBM Verse Preview”. Among the functions missing is a way to create a mail signature. There is also a limit to 25 emails in a 24 hour period, as well as no more than 10 recipients for any email. Storages is limited to 500 MB.
According to a response in the support forum, IBM have dropped the Freemium idea. IBM Verse Preview replaces it, and will be just a demo version to try to get customers to buy the full version, where signatures and other features not present in the crippled Preview version will be available.
If you want to hear Jeff Schick announce the Freemium version (and personally invite ConnectED attendees to get early access to Verse Freemium), watch this video (starts at 42 minutes in):
In my opinion, IBM need to drop the 25 email and 10 recipient limit, increase the mailbox to at least 2 GB and add at least the functionality GMail offers, which include signatures (with graphics). Then there is quite a bit of polish left, if you mail a non-existing user you get the message “User XXX not listed in Domino Directory”. Yes, we are all happy that IBM Verse actually uses Domino and .NSF for mail storage, but it should probably be hidden from users.
There are also parts that look totally different, a lot of Connections stuff like profile settings, inviting users to your network, etc. Finally, Internet Explorer should be supported. Not that it is my favorite browser, but many companies are still standardized on that browser.
In my opinion, IBM dropped the ball. As my instructors in the Swedish army would have said: “Do it over, do it right”. IBM Verse has potential, but not as crippleware.