Funambol, a provider of an open source mobile sync and push email service, today released the results of a study that evaluated the sync solutions from 12 top device makers, carriers, and specialists. Included in the study were Apple MobileMe, AT&T Mobile Backup, BlackBerry Internet Service (not BES), Google Sync, Microsoft My Phone, Nokia Ovi Sync, Palm Synergy, T-Mobile Mobile Backup, Verizon Wireless Backup Assistant, Vodafone Zyb, Yahoo! Mobile, and Funambol themselves.
Who came out on top? Why Funambol, of course. That alone probably makes you wonder if any of the data from the study is worthwhile or if it's all been skewed in their favor. But parsing through their report, there are some interesting tidbits about the state of mobile sync.
Mobile sync refers to the synchronization of data on the phone with a server and a portal in the cloud. The core data that is synced from the mobile phone includes contacts, calendar data, email, photos, and files. Some companies expand that list to include other types of data like maps or music.
Each solution in the study was compared across ten attributes: cost, supported devices, synced data, web portal, wireless desktop integration, social network sync, usability and performance, global readiness, open source and standards, and brandability and customizability for 3rd parties.
Cost of Sync
When it comes to cost, 75% of the mobile sync solutions out there are free. Note that this report does not include specialized mobile applications such as those found in the App Store. Blackberry Internet Service (BIS) was the most expensive at $20 per month and Apple's MobileMe was second most expensive at $99 per year.
What to Sync?
An important consideration when choosing a sync service is finding one that syncs everything you need. In the study, Funambol found that 41% of the solutions only synced a single item. The solutions that synced four or more data types were the Apple MobileMe, Microsoft MyPhone, Nokia Ovi, Palm Synergy, and Funambol's open source solution.
Along with standard data (contacts, calendar, photos, etc.), a few of the solutions also sync with social networks, most notably Palm Pre's Synergy solution which syncs with Facebook. However, 50% of the solutions studied didn't provide social networking sync - a situation that we think really needs to change.
As the study continues, Funambol rates the solutions on things like "open source and SyncML Basis" and "Branded and Customized Sync for 3rd Parties" - attributes that highlight features specific to their offering, and not necessarily things the average consumer will care about. This skews the overall results in favor of their solution and makes the takeaway from the report somewhat moot. Still, before they got all self-promotional, there was a bit of interesting data to discover, as we've highlighted above.
In the end, though, none of the sync services on the market are really perfect solutions as of now, something that we mentioned before when lamenting the terrible contact management solutions out there today. We're still waiting for something to blow us away here and it just hasn't happened yet.