THE United States is a truly remarkable media market. It has magazines and newsletters targeted to serve every little niche. Everyone knows that. So, we were wondering why it took so long for someone to launch a newsletter there called Out Of The Blue, a publication ''written for and by former IBMers''. Now why didn't we think of that? Sure, it's a niche. But, hey, it's growing. From its peak in 1986 of 407,000 employees, Big Blue's worldwide head count had been reduced to 255,000 by the end of last year. There are 150,000 potential subscribers right there. And reports in the United States say that another 40,000 are expected to join the ranks of potential subscribers this year. According to technology news service Newsbytes, Out Of The Blue editor Rick Weiner (an early retiree when his corporate communications post was eliminated after 26 years) said the newsletter should act as a catalyst for ''networking'' among IBM alumni. Apparently a large part of the newsletter will focus on how Wall Street sees IBM. Big Blue has long emphasised company-sponsored investment programs - so while Out Of The Blue subscribers are no longer with the company, many still have a considerable vested interest, with significant portions of their investments in IBM stock. Admittedly, the financial troubles at IBM have caused many now-former employees a good deal of heartache and trauma. At one time, IBM deliberately created an entire culture of its own, whereby an employee could not only reasonably expect to build a lifelong career with the company, but also to build a social life of friends and neighbours who were quite likely also IBMers. So, the magazine also looks at the basic, real-life issues: how to re-equip yourself (and get re-employed) in the post-IBM world. In the meantime, IBM appears to have stemmed the flow of bad news, and has even managed some goods news of late. But in the face of grim, but real, stories such as this, you have to wonder at the morale of those who are still at IBM, toiling to turn the giant, and still believing that it can be done. LOTUS Development last week announced the biggest single software sales coup in memory, unveiling a worldwide agreement with Coopers and Lybrand, in which the consulting firm will standardise on Lotus office software on all of its personal computers. With competition in the market for bundled office suites already white-hot - with Microsoft Office, WordPerfect Office and Lotus slugging it out - the deal is a major boost for Lotus. Apparently Coopers and Lybrand has already signed a contract to equip 28,000 PCs with Lotus Windows desktop suite and Lotus Notes - an order which both companies said would more than likely increase to 40,000 PCs. This should make Lotus chairman Jim Manzi smile (although the discount offered by Coopers and Lybrand was, obviously, not revealed). Apparently it has been difficult to wipe the smile off Mr Manzi's face since it became evident that Lotus Notes was fast becoming the kind of product success story the company has not seen since it first launched its 1-2-3 (and that was a heck of a long time ago). Notes is a client-server platform for developing and deploying ''groupware'' applications with organisations. Analysts in the US say the Notes product has been the ''differentiator'', when many customers have come to choose between the largely-alike office software suites. Specifically, it lets co-workers on a network better organise and share information. Microsoft does not have a product that can compete directly with Notes. That makes Notes a very important product, and Jim Manzi a very happy bean counter.