We reached a major milestone last week as we updated the PC version of the Phanfare client to run offline or disconnected, without a network connection. You can start and run Phanfare in a place with no connectivity and organize, import and access your videos and photos. When you next connect to a network, Phanfare synchronizes itself with the network cloud in the background, much like a Blackberry coming out of an underground tunnel. Your videos and photos can be viewed on the web, but yet feel local to your PC as you interact with them.
With this release, our vision for the future of network-connected media-intensive services starts to take shape. We believe many end-user applications will eventually be delivered to consumers the Phanfare way. You get more immersiveness than even the best web 2.0 browser-based system can offer, you get universal access to your data from any device, and you get disconnected access so that you can work offline.
Web 2.0, from a technology standpoint, can be defined as a new breed of interactive network applications built to work within the web browser. Many point to Oddpost as having ushered in the technology side of web 2.0. Oddpost made an MS Outlook-like mail reader that ran inside a browser (Oddpost was subsequently sold to Yahoo and they are busy making it the new Yahoo Mail experience). Web 2.0 is good. It brings the graphical user experience squarely into where it was in 1990 while providing network connectivity.
At Phanfare, we built downloadable clients for Mac and PC so that our customers can manage their videos and photos from any computer, with the interactivity of local desktop application and the universal access offered by a web browser. But Phanfare’s downloadable software is not like MS Word or Excel. Our application gets its personality from the network cloud and keeps itself in sync with the cloud in the background.
We merge the desktop and the web, allowing the use of one integrated software system to both manage on the desktop and publish media to the web.
Ask any person who loves taking videos and photos with their digicam if they have eschewed the use of a desktop organizer in favor of only using a web-based service and they will tell you that they still use their Picasa, their iPhoto or their ACDSee on their desktop. Why? Because for all the hype of Web 2.0, a purely web-based service is a poor substitute for an application written to exploit the full power of the desktop. So users have been forced to live in both worlds, using great local applications on the desktop and great web-based systems for publishing.
Phanfare bridges the world of local media management and network-based online sharing. Unlike Picasa, iPhoto and ACDsee, Phanfare can be installed on a new computer with all your media present and accounted for. If you install Phanfare on multiple computers, your experience stays in synch across those computers. And like those great organizers, Phanfare runs offline, without a network connection. Every video and photo you drop into Phanfare synchronizes itself to the network cloud, safely backed up. If your computer fails or needs to be replaced, you local desktop experience travels with you.
We believe that the Phanfare approach to rich internet applications (RIAs) will become known as Web 3.0.
We know that that the Phanfare application is not a viable replacement for iPhoto, Picasa and ACDsee today. It is missing a few niceties. But we are diligently building the missing features, and unlike the core of Phanfare’s background synchronizing cache-coherent technology, the missing features are not that difficult.
Welcome Web 3.0.