Interview: SoonR’s Song Huang on accessing your PC remotely

September 11, 2007 at 6:57 pm 4 comments

Could you use a mobile phone to access the files and applications on your desktop computer? SoonR users can. With the highly-rated application, you can check your email and search your computer remotely and securely. SoonR’s servers and your computer, not your phone, do the heavy lifting. SoonR has users in over 160 countries worldwide, has worked on over 600 different types of mobile handsets, and manages upwards of 200 million files in their datacenters, with 25 employees in offices in the USA, Denmark, and Slovakia. For a video demo of SoonR on the iPhone see the below video. We talked with Song Huang, SoonR’s Chief Evangelist, about how it all works.

Give us a basic overview of SoonR, if you would.
Huang: Your mobile phone acts as a remote control for your computer. There is nothing to install on your phone because SoonR uses the features that are already built into your phone. You simply login into the SoonR website at http://www.soonr.com. SoonR can send you an SMS with the link to make it even easier.

So no download is required?
Huang: In order to access your computer from your phone, you need to download a program (SoonR Desktop Agent) that runs on your computer, and define which folders you want to access from your phone. This program also allows you to leverage applications installed on your computer such as Outlook, Mac Mail, Skype, or Desktop Search.

Then how does SoonR conserve bandwidth?
Huang: It will optimize all the data that is sent to your phone, leveraging the superior power of your computer’s CPU. The SoonR service is there to connect your computer to your phone and provide optimized versions of information stored on remote computers. When you make changes on your remote computer, the SoonR Desktop Agent program will update the information on the SoonR service so that it will immediately available on your mobile phone the next time you ask for it. The service also provides a place for information to be shared that works even when remote computers are turned off. SoonR can cache portions of your folders that you specify so that they are available anytime.

How is your philosophy different from your competitors?
Huang: On a high level, SoonR was created as a platform with the belief that desktop computers, web services, and mobile phones will act as one in the future. Because of this SoonR is built in a modular fashion so that it can easily be expanded. We continue to roll out functionality at a rapid pace because of the way SoonR was designed. If you did a feature by feature comparison, you will see that no one has the breath of features that SoonR offers in delivering a complete mobile platform for productivity as well as fun.

Who have you partnered with so far?
Huang: If you look at WebEx, Magenta, Tata, and others you can see versions of SoonR in action. In each of these cases, the partner specifies the feature set they require and SoonR makes it their own. Complete with localization, training, and support SoonR offers its partners a new way to deliver value added services with shared risk and reward.

How is your product different from Avvenu, which also links to desktop computers?
Huang: Avvenu appears to have taken a turn down the digital music road. SoonR doesn’t offer streaming functionality as we are not media focused. We are primarily focused on productivity of the mobile worker. Entertainment content usually doesn’t make you more productive!

What are your future plans?
Huang: I think that SoonR has built a platform that is a little ahead of the mass market. The concept of using your mobile device for productivity outside of email is something that users have not gotten used to just yet. Even today the number of users using email accounts on smartphones (which have email as a built in features) hasn’t crossed the 30% mark! The early adopter market appreciates SoonR, and the more tech savvy people understand and use it a lot. The general consumer is not yet willing to pay for this kind of service, so the carriers have not rolled it out. Businesses and enterprises will adopt this first (just as they did email) and the consumer markets will catch up at a later date…The day will come when consumers will use their handsets for everything from talking to purchasing merchandise to video chat. The infrastructure and service providers have a ways to go until that becomes a normal part of everyday life.

What new products and capabilities will you be adding?
Huang: Well, the one thing I can mention is that SoonR has thus far been about retrieving information from computers. Many of SoonR’s early patents revolve around the idea of a private mobile network where mobile handsets can contribute information in addition to consuming it. In the future, you’ll be able to use your mobile handset or device to be a content creation device that can feed your host computer. Also, you can also imagine a system where desktop computers wouldn’t even be needed. Users can just use their phones as their “computer”. As handsets and devices get more powerful and the networks improve, this mode of operation can become a reality.

Michael M.
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Entry filed under: avvenu, mobile applications, mobile content, soonr.

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