SharpCast – mobile synchronisation

Oliver has posted an excellent overview of SharpCast – a ‘syncrhonisation 2.0’ service aiming to help you synchronise your data across PC, web and mobile.

I was momentarily interested. But it’s not that useful to me at this time as it works only for Windows and Windows Mobile.

I’m primarily a Mac user and I use Symbian like no tomorrow with the N90. What’s more, Foldershare, now owned by Microsoft, does an absolutely phenomenal job of doing synchronising my data across my PCs and Macs.

I’m interested in the SharpCast concept — and what they might offer in the future. At this time though, I want to get my data OFF my mobile, not on to it. For example, I have about 200gb of data kept in perfect sync by Foldershare across 7 machines in 3 timezones. My photo library, now more or less exclusively on Flickr, is 100s of meg in size — due in part to the fact that each picture I take is now at least 0.5meg in size. I’ve only got a paltry 1gb memory on the Nokia N90 at the moment.

As for getting images from my mobile — ShoZu does a fine, fine job of this. But I can see the potential. I can see the day when it’d be rather useful to have my documents accessible on the mobile and my music synched.

I wonder, though, are we really… realistically… years away from being able to walk about with a mobile sized device that can cope with 200gb of data, easily? Aren’t we better building systems that allow thin client access to the data ‘in the sky’?

Either way the moment SharpCast do something with Mac or Symbian I’ll have a go.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

One reply on “SharpCast – mobile synchronisation”

Hi there,

This is Gibu Thomas, CEO of Sharpcast. A similar concern as the one you raised about how do you sync 200 GB of data on to a mobile device was raised on a Techcrunch post, so I will post my response there to this post as well for the benefit of your readers.

We are intentionally over-simplifying to call what we do synchronization, because let’s say you have 10 GB of photos that are managed thru Sharpcast on your desktop, we are not going to sync all of that to your mobile phone.

What we do is keep the meta data in sync. So, the list of albums, number of images in each album, etc and maintain a smart cache of thumbnails. When you click on an album, the application requests the server to send down a transcoded image big just enough to fit the screen resolution (in the future, you will be able to set favorites to lock something down in cache), so it is really fast compared to a web browser, where you’d have to type in a URL on a tiny cell phone key pad, navigate to the right album, and download the whole file. If you take a picture on your camera phone, the full file is of course synced to the server. So, unlike a Shozu, we provide 2-way push synchronization, so you are always managing a single virtual workspace of your photos.

There are a lot of other nifty things we have done to overcome the limitations of the small devices, but as a user, all this is completely transparent to you. To you, you have access to your full workspace everywhere regardless of what device you are on and whether you are online or offline, and you pick up where you left off.

As for your comment re: Foldershare, think of the difference between two instances of Outlook running on two PCs connected to an Exchange server, working seamlessly with Outlook Web Access on the web vs. an Excel file of your contacts staying in sync.

In other words, as opposed to a peer-to-peer file sharing solution, we give you an experience where we keep entire application workspaces in sync across multiple PCs and the web, so you never have to worry about whether you are online or offline or whether your stuff is backed up and so on.

Synchronization that you can make work, when done right, is powerful as you point out. Synchronization that happens without any thinking is the holy grail.

At least that is the lesson Blackberry taught us and that is the bar we are measuring us against. Also, we hear you on Mac and other mobile platforms. We will get there soon, I promise.


Gibu Thomas
CEO, Sharpcast

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