SyncML must be one of the most underrepresented technologies I’ve ever seen. From the first day I heard about it, I thought that this would be *the* killer technology for keeping people and devices in sync.
Up to now, I’ve been disappointed. Is still looks like a technology demonstration to me, with few implementations available.
First of all, what is SyncML? Douglas Heintzman, the chairman of the SyncML Initiative Ltd., puts it this way: “The shared vision was straightforward: build a universal, open standard protocol for both synchronization and device management that interlinks the networked and wireless world and gives enterprises an easy solution to manage data remotely.” (full article here.
SyncML has been built into mobile phones for quite some time now (starting with the Ericsson R520m, if I’m right), but it has gone mostly unrecognised by phone users. In my high-tech surroundings, I know about two people who know about SyncML.
Most modern phones support SyncML, i.e. the Siemens S55, all the Series 60 phones, the Nokia Communicator, new Sony Ericsson models like the T610 or Z600.
SyncML clients are available for all kinds of operating systems, i.e. SmartPhone2003, PocketPC, PalmOS, and of course there are lots of Windows applications. A good source is http://www.synthesis.ch/. Apple is supposed to support SyncML in iSync anytime now.
So who would benefit from widespread SyncML use?
Consumers: No more installing umpteen incompatible Sync software solutions (ever tried installing XTNDConnect for a phone and a PDA on the same PC? Have fun.). It also works as a backup of your data on the SyncML server and allows for online access of data that’s otherwise only available on your PC.
Corporate users: Enter a meeting on your SyncML capable calendaring system, and with the next sync all your roadwarriors know about it. Same for updated customer contacts. In fact, integrate this with your internal RSS feed and your new intranet information is on the remote devices as well. In the long run, this could eliminate the use for expensive Exchange Servers that do little more.
Phone manufacturers: if SyncML gets used widely, there’s no more need for proprietary sync solutions. SyncML over Bluetooth or IrDA would do the job.
Mobile Network Operators: SyncML would definitely promote data use, which is what carriers care about. There’s also an opportunity for carriers to provide the SyncML service, maybe even for corporate use.
So, doesn’t look bad, does it. Why then does it not happen? Personally, I have been looking for a service provider with the following functionality:
- Full SyncML support (i.e. contacts with notes, appointments, notes, to do
- Support for Outlook sync (should not be a problem, it’s available)
- Web interface for remote internet access
I’d gladly be willing to pay for that, but so far, something was lacking with every service I looked at. Space2Go is a strategic partner with Synthesis, yet their server only supports a subset of the client’s functionality. eMails were not answered.
Does anybody know a good SyncML provider? Consider me a customer.