Synch or Swim
I've seen the future, and its name is sync. The company that can synchronize everything in my little digital universe -- photos, songs, contacts, bookmarks, blog posts -- on my PC, phone, and any other device I happen to throw at you, will win my heart forever. After all, it frustrates me to tears that my Outlook contacts don't immediately show up on my phone or in my Gmail account. And that my high-alert emails don't come as text messages to my phone...
It's an opportunity because a platform approach to synchronization addresses its biggest challenge: There is no single killer application; there's only my killer application. Some consumers want photo sync; others want contact sync; others want video sync, or email sync, or bookmark sync. The company that builds out and brings to market the best synchronization platform will win.
It's a problem because each kind of synchronization involves a different application, a different retail channel partner, and a different stakeholder...
As we acquire more devices and keep more of our important content on them, synching will become an ever greater challenge. Currently I use a kludgy application to synch files between my laptop and desktop PC; it presents more difficulty than the average user would put up with, but it gets the job done. However, it doesn't synch Outlook, and it doesn't talk to cell phones, blogs, DVRs or photo sites.
The killer synch app, therefore, needs to be more than just universally compatible. It needs to be transparent, nearly effortless to set up and use. And, of course, fail-safe.
Schadler notes Vizrea, which allows camera phone users to easily upload photos to a web-based account. This is a step in the right direction... but the uber-synch remains elusive.