Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Forever sync

Today, I had a deja-vu. I was having lunch with a friend from HP and he asked me "do you still believe there is a need for synchronization in mobile? Network are fast now, you know, and reliable". My mind went back to 2003, to the very first presentation I gave about Sync4j (two years in the making, at the time). Someone asked me the same question, albeit more generic: "do you still believe there is a need for synchronization? Network are fast now, you know".

To both, I gave the same answer: "You bet! It is not about the network, it is about usability".

Then I checked the announcement that Apple TV finally hit the stores today. They have one page on the web site where the word sync is used 12 times... Wow, sync is still here today... And there is no network more reliable and faster than the one you have at home... Why is that? Apple could have created Apple TV just streaming info from your devices, taking content from the web. Instead, they went for a sync solution (as they did for the iPod). Why?

Think about your Apple TV. It shows your video and pictures and music on your TV. Where do you have them? On your PC. On your iPod. On your mobile phone. They are spread out. Every device captures the information and you have to sync it back somewhere. The devices are many, the data could be just one, but it is distributed. Each device has a piece of the puzzle. Again, why?

Because on your iPod you want music to start instantaneously. Five seconds wait and it is unusable. Because the experience of listening to your music on your iPod in the subway could not be replicated if you needed a wireless signal (yes, I know, some subway now have wireless signal). Or when you fly (yes, I know, some airplanes now have wi-fi, but did you notice Connexion by Boeing died?).

On your Apple TV your data is stored. You flip through it in an instant. It works even if your laptop is off, your iPod is in your bag, the batteries of your cell phone are toasted. You can use it. And the experience is great (Apple is the master of usability, after all). You get that only if your data is already on your device. And it gets there through synchronization. Usable synchronized data. Even in a fast and reliable network, imagine on a cellular network...

Forget killing synchronization. It is here to stay. Long life to sync.