In our previous
post
, written by John Milan, we explored the emerging world of “social business
applications” – where Internet-connected data is synchronizable and accessible anywhere,
online and offline. It’s a fascinating article and I highly recommend you take the time
to read it, if you’re at all interested in the next generation of Web technology.

The tie-in with this post is that Sharpcast is a promising new company building
synchronization software. We wrote about it previously on
Read/WriteWeb
:

“In a nutshell Sharpcast enables you to synch
your data across the Web, multiple PCs and your mobile phone. It’s a real-time
synchronisation engine and photos is just the first application of this – soon Sharpcast
will be extended to all types of files. Indeed the platform was always intended to go
well beyond photos.”

Today Sharpcast released a further upgrade to their Photos app, making the sync functionality more
powerful and offering a 5GB free account.


Screenshot of the desktop client

Sharpcast Photos is Web-connected desktop
software, but with an online browser-based version too. It allows you to back up your web
albums online, keep your photos in sync across multiple PCs, sync comments (called “Photo
Chat”), and manage your photos offline. Sharpcast labels all this “continuous multi-way
synchronization” – which is a fancy way of saying that it keeps your PC in sync
with the web and optionally with your mobile phone. Said Sharpcast CEO Gibu Thomas in the
press release:

“The future of all applications lies in the seamless integration of the desktop
and the web so that your files and data are always backed up for you, and you can access
them wherever you are, on whatever device you’re using and whether you’re
online or offline. Sharpcast Photos is the first example of how powerful this type of
universal synchronization can be.”

It’s a lovely piece of software, but what’s most interesting to me is the potential to
use the syncing technology in business settings.

Sharpcast for all your files by end of ’06

I spoke to Sharpcast CEO Gibu Thomas about their future direction. He’s said
previously that Sharpcast is using their Photos app to “nail the user experience before
we extend it to other data types”. So I asked him how far away are they from
nailing it? 

He said it’s “more that the online/offline seamless user experience is not something
that people are used to […] it’s an experience that people don’t expect outside of a
corporate Exchange environment.” So with Photos, Sharpcast is trying to get people (i.e.
consumers) used to the beauty of that seamless experience – it’s an education
process.

Gibu also told me they had to build a lot of the technology from scratch, so it’s an
ongoing and iterative process with the technology too. But he promises that by the end of
the year the Sharpcast experience will be extended “beyond photos and to any type of file
– basically Sharpcast for all your stuff.”

Very exciting! I think Sharpcast is one of the more innovative web companies around
currently, and so I’ll write more about my talk with Gibu in a future post. For now, I
recommend you check out the new Sharpcast Photos beta.