Phil Sim

Web, media, PR and… footy

Online/offline the way of the future

My post on the likelihood of Google eyeing an online/offline model generated a heap of correspondence and really got my thinking. This has to be the way of the future!

Let me point you to a company called Sharpcast. I’ve written before that I’ve been frustrated that Picasa doesn’t have both online and offline capabilities so as I can manage my photos either on my desktop or on the web. Well Sharpcast Photos does exactly that plus extends the model to mobile.

So you have three clients. One that runs on your desktop, a web client and a mobile client., all of which stay in synch, enabling you to access your photos absolutely anywhere but also in the client that delivers the best performance.

Sharpcast tout the following benefits

  • Organize Once, Access Anywhere — see your whole catalog on your phone
  • Complete Mobile Integration — stop using that browser on your tiny screen
  • Instant Backup — mobile phone pictures sent to your desktop and the web automatically
  • Rich, Integrated Applications — a familiar look and feel wherever you are
  • Speedy Recovery — recreate your collection just as you left it

The company just raised $13.5 million in Series B funding from Sigma Partners. A lot of money for a photo sharing app? No, photos is just the first service that the Sharpcast technology will drive.

Sharpcast is developing a suite of consumer services that dramatically simplifies the way people manage, access, back up and share digital media and information. With Sharpcast services, a person’s PC and mobile phone work together automatically to keep all of their media and information in sync, backed up on the web and instantly accessible wherever they are. The company’s first service, Sharpcast photos, will launch in beta later this spring.

The Sharpcast folk have promised me a look at what they’ve got to date so more on that when I get the opportunity but this is one VC funding exercise I’m not going to spurn.

Whoever solves the online/offline puzzle is sitting on a bonanza because this stuff is tough. Anyone who has ever used anything with online/offline capabilities such as Lotus Notes, knows the potential for things like replication conflicts and so forth.

This is where you so-called ‘Web 2.0′ starts to get serious. I remember way back when I was a cub reporter on Computerworld, George Colony was predicting the death of the web. He claimed desktop apps would interact with the Internet to collect information and update with central data stores, but that the client would be feature and graphic rich traditional applications.

What that ignores is that a web client is fabulous for getting access to your data regardless of where you are. It’s a teriffic lowest common denominator. But we’re a long, long way off being able to do everything in a browser that we can achieve on the desktop. Multiple clients accessing synchronised multiple sets and subsets of data, depending on use and practicality is where this industry is heading. And fast.

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Filed under: Online Advertising, Online Photo Libraries

4 Responses

  1. […] Sharpcast: * still not released and not much known + online offline foto management(read more of its advantage on squash) + neat mobile integration + applications for system,online,mobile   […]

  2. Brad says:

    Intriguing. I think Microsoft and Google are both aiming to “solve the online/offline puzzle”, more here: http://scripsit.blogspot.com/2006/03/ie8-as-googles-trojan-horse.html

  3. alan jones says:

    Lemme guess:

    (1) It’ll only run on WinXP or greater and IE – no Mac client, no Linux client, no support for Firefox or Opera or Safari; and

    (2) The mobile client will only run on a Symbian Series 2 or Windows Mobile handset.

    Which will make it online/offline photo management for the people, as long as you’re talking about the same 10% of the people.

    People keep assuming that because humans have evolved to upgrade our phones every 18mths, we must all upgrade to the latest, most advanced handset money can buy. Check with your parents: is that what they did? No. If they upgraded at all in the last two years, it was to another basic, no-frills handset. Check with your nearest teen: is that what they did? No. They upgraded to one that plays music, or one that is so thin you could shave with it, and neither of those runs Symbian Series 2 or Windows Mobile.

    Take, for instance, computer magazine publishers: doing it tough, no doubt, but how much tougher would they be doing it if only 10% of their potential audience could open and read the magazine they’d been sent? Publishing models need 99% compatability.

  4. […] Online/Offline: the way of the future (from Squash, also read his/her previous one: Google/Writely points to online/offline future.) […]

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