Long-Distance Relationships

Carl Weinschenk

Carl Weinschenk spoke with Song Huang, vice president of marketing and co-founder of SoonR.


Weinschenk: How does SoonR differ from companies such as GoToMyPC or pcAnywhere?
Huang: At a very, very high level the companies are about getting to your PC remotely. But SoonR is extremely different. We are focusing on mobile phones, not one PC to another, although we do that too. We focus on mobile handsets, those that are not traditional smartphones. This is very important. If you look at phone markets in general, there were something like 700 million to a billion handsets sold last year. If you look at market for Blackberry, Windows Mobile and Palm collectively, it's less than 10 million. What happens to the other phones out there? Most phones you can purchase or that you even get for free have some sort of access now. They may have WAP browsers or SMS capabilities. We're focusing on those phones, mid-tier mass market phones. GotoMyPC, those kinds of applications are about directly replicating the screen. It's a screen scraper. It really appeals to people like IT managers. It isn't what SoonR does. We make sure you have access to the data you need, the files you need, the applications you need-but we are optimizing them for the handset.


Weinschenk: Mobility - for employees and consumers - seems to be the trend of the future. Do you agree?
Huang: Companies like BlackBerry, Seven are all about communicating when you are not in front of a PC. Now, with the BlackBerry experience, people are expecting to do e-mail wherever they are. We think there's another level here. That's why we partnered with Google and integrated Google desktop search. Often you are talking to somebody and they ask you to forward a file or a phone number [back at the office]. In that case you can bring up SoonR and search any local computer, review [the results] and forward [the file] on as an attachment.


Weinschenk: The tools - the 3G and smartphones - are evolving in parallel. It seems that the time is ripe for a tremendous amount of mobile innovation. Is this so?
Huang: [Bill Gates recently said that] in the future people should be able to get information from anywhere to anywhere optimized to any device. In a sense that's what SoonR is doing. When we created the company we took a look at where the market is going, how fast the handsets are evolving. It was clear people were going to expect all sorts of things in the future. One of the founders of the company - Martin Frid-Nielsen - was traveling all over the world, carrying a laptop all the time. That was really annoying. He always had a phone, and said wouldn't it be cool if there came a day when you didn't have to lug the laptop around. You could actually get what you needed from the phone. Without a doubt things are migrating to the phone. Handsets are ubiquitous, have more power and are doing everything now. The [devices] people are carrying all the time are more powerful and can be used for more than talking.

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