The Register has confirmed that IBM is developing a Lotus Notes client for the iPhone, and that they are "working closely" with Apple to create a native application for the iPhone and iPod Touch for business use.
Apple and IBM haven't been the best of buddies since Apple switched to Intel chips in their computers back in 2005, but that's water under the bridge now, and while both companies are in the IT industry they compete at almost no level.
IBM reckons there are 135 million Lotus users worldwide, so getting a client onto the iPhone platform would transform what has been seen as a consumer device into a useful business tool. The chaps at IBM can see no reason why it shouldn't compete with the BlackBerry - though some might argue that the soft keyboard needs work before that happens.
iPhone users can already check email on Lotus systems using the web interface, but having a native client creates a much better user experience and features, such as push email, which are simply impossible using the Web Apps the iPhone currently supports.
Apple will be launching the official iPhone SDK in February, but clearly it's not just games companies who have had early access to it. IBM expects their application to be ready in about a month, so it seems likely that Steve Jobs is planning to announce a range of applications to go with the SDK when it's launched. ®