The Cloud as a PIM provider

In today’s world of digital devices, it’s easy to find people having multiple devices. In that case, it becomes a task to keep them all in sync. For example, If I add a new contact on my phone, it should be “synced” to my laptop, or if I added a new email contact on my Gmail account, it should be synced to my phone address book.  Same goes for photos clicked from my camera phone and emails sent from phone or tablet or laptop or desktop.

Few years earlier, people used to solve this synchronization problem by keeping a hard disk hooked up to the home network and all devices used to store everything there only, basically removing the need for synchronization altogether. However, in a bigger world, with networks spanning home/office/playground/convention hall/markets.. Rather, almost everywhere, the shared hard disk solution doesn’t work anymore.

Enter cloud paradigm, which provide a similar analogy to the shared hard disk solution, only that it’s a lot more than the shared hard disk. A cloud based solution works across platforms, across operating systems and across geographic boundaries. One can think of the cloud based solution as another device intelligent enough to take its own decisions for when and what to synchronize across which all devices.

Recently Steve Jobs introduced iCloud in a jam-packed auditorium in SF. In summary, it’s a service which allows Apple customers (having either of ipod, iphone, ipad or any type of Macbook/pro etc) to sync their contents to a central location on cloud.  The benefit is the fact that you don’t have to keep synchronizing all your devices separately.

It so turns out that there are other vendors either providing or working towards providing similar functionality, “Ubuntu One” being one such service.  As of today, Ubuntu-One provides music streaming. Music on cloud is also provided by Apple.

Ubuntu-One has taken another step towards providing this cloud based synchronization, that of including android in their supported platforms. Basically, Ubuntu-One supports both iPhone and android devices in the sync service.  Though Ubuntu-One service is in its infancy still, it sure promises to be a lot more in future, given that there is now a serious competitor to the idea, and that they are open to more platforms

Ubuntu-One is a paid service with first month complementary service. Though its not sky high pricing, its going to be challenged now, since iCloud provides similar services (contacts sync) for free.  Apple’s package has just came out and the pricing is bundled together with iOS 5 upgrade. However, for Ubuntu-One, the pricing is relatively clearly visible, at $3.99 a month.

It’s going to be very interesting to see how these services evolve going forward.

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