By Marina Lopes
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - International Business Machine Corp on Tuesday launched a new e-mail application for businesses that integrates social media, file sharing and analytics to learn a user's behavior and predict interactions with coworkers.
The application is part of IBM's attempt to shift its focus to cloud computing and data analytics from the hardware services that had long been the company's bread and butter.
The new e-mail service, known as IBM Verse, includes a built-in personal assistant that can learn from a user's behavior and draft responses to e-mails based on similar previous interactions.
It also allows users to transform e-mail content into threads for blogs and social media, view the relationships between different employees in an e-mail, mute a chain and search through attachments.
The e-mail' s interface pins a user's most frequent contacts, schedule and lists of assignments to a dashboard for easy access.
"We came at this from the perspective that this is about changing the game, not just incremental improvements in e-mail," Jeff Schick, IBM's general manager of social solutions, told Reuters.
IBM's enterprise mail service, known as Notes, is used by 25,000 companies worldwide and more than 50,000 use IBM's social platform for businesses, IBM Connections. The company hopes IBM Verse will eventually replace Window's popular Outlook.
The free initial model will include limited mailbox sizes and file sharing. A paid version with additional features and data allowance will be available in January 2015.
IBM is not the only company trying to give e-mail a makeover. In October, Google Inc launched an e-mail service called "Inbox" that will better organize e-mails and display information such as appointments, flight bookings and package deliveries in a more user-friendly way.
But unlike Google, IBM Verse will not sell the data it gathers about users to advertisers, a selling point critical for businesses concerned about privacy and security.
The service is delivered through cloud computing and will be available in IBM's Cloud Marketplace.
(Reporting by Marina Lopes; Editing by Dan Grebler)