Interview: SoonR’s Song Huang on mobile convergence

September 17, 2007 at 11:12 am

inbabble-soonr.gifLast week we chatted to Song Huang, Chief Evangelist at SoonR about their application that allows you to check your email and search your computer remotely and securely. 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. This week we continue our chat with Song Huang about multiple devices and managing information.

What makes SoonR unique?
Huang: We are really about creating a platform for mobilizing all the digital information that defines your lifestyle at work and play. Each passing year people realize that they are storing more and more information digitally on multiple devices. They are also enjoying the freedom to be anywhere while staying connected. Whether on computers, digital media servers, TVs, or mobile phones each of these devices store a piece of our lives that we would like to have available to us in a uniform interface. SoonR brings all this together on a mobile device. We are very unique because we are looking at the whole ecosystem and not just a point device.

Can I get rid of my laptop, and just access my desktop computer with SoonR and my cell phone?
Huang: In some cases, it just isn’t practical to use a phone. For example, you wouldn’t want to edit a long document on a handset’s screen, especially if the formatting was an important feature. Because of this, we choose to adapt to what people can do reasonably from a phone. PowerPoint presentations are good on a phone since is visual, but if you are reviewing a legal document (contract, patent application, etc.) you probably only want to see the redlines, so this is what we offer you.

So I shouldn’t sell my WiFi notebook card on eBay just yet?
Huang: I wouldn’t! WiMax initiatives are rolling out everywhere and the speed of mobile access will someday be as reliable and cheap as having a WiFi network at home or work. But that day isn’t here yet. Many of our users need access to multiple machines for different reasons. You may have a home desktop PC and a work laptop. With SoonR, you don’t have to mix the two data sets to have access to them. You can use your phone and a SoonR account to manage them both. These machines may not all be on WiFi or WiMax. So I think the hybrid model is here for the foreseeable future.

If I want to share some Microsoft Office documents with you, will you have any choice in how they appear?
Huang: I can choose between the fully rendered documents, or I can choose to only see the changes that have been made in those documents as tracked by Microsoft Office’s change tracking features.

Do you have any tips for using SoonR more effectively?
Huang: Most SoonR users are just beginning to discover that they can cache their important folders for AnyTime access. Be sure and set up your folders for offline access. Not only will your access be faster since most operations will not have to make a round trip to your desktop computer, but you’ll also get a backup of your important files by default.

What else?
Huang: SoonR supports commenting on pictures and documents. You can set up a chat room of sorts to share pictures or files. SoonR will automatically notify you when people add comments. Also, if you use Outlook or MacMail, you can reply to emails or manage your mailbox even when your computer is offline. SoonR will store the “transactions” and synchronize them as a batch the next time that it detects the host computer is online. The SoonR user never has to think about synchronization.

I gather that technically SoonR isn’t a native mobile application.
Huang: There are a separate set of challenges to creating a native application. Many companies have died trying to create native applications and to keep up with the ridiculous pace of new mobile phone introductions. Since SoonR doesn’t need a client on the phone, we avoid those problems.

Michael M.
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Entry filed under: interview, mobile applications, mobile content, song huang, soonr.

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