Views from Phanfare CEO and Co-founder Andrew Erlichson

Link Google releases sync, makes it possible for us to move to Google Apps, ditch Windows

Google announced wireless syncing support for the iPhone through ActiveSync, which makes googles calendar, email and address book look like an exchange server from the standpoint of the iPhone. This is significant and here is why.

We use iPhones and we want wireless sync. Until now, there were two solutions for this: MobileMe and Microsoft Exchange. We use Exchange today, but Microsoft Outlook is has been driving me a bit batty lately. It slows down, rebuilds its database far too frequently, and recently the search functionality inside Outlook got an order of magnitude slower (something broke in vista and I don’t know what). What’s more, we need to back it up and use a separate spam service (postini, owned by google) to make email usable.

We would love to move to a cloud-based service for email, contacts and calendar and simultaneously ditch Outlook. But to move Phanfare to google apps, we need wireless sync of our email, address book and calenda to our mobile devices. MobileMe does wireless sync, but they won’t host, so that is a non-starter. Also, Google’s web-based tools are better.

Now with the Google’s sync services, if they work, we could move off Exchange. And if we can move off Exchange, we can move the desktops off Microsoft Windows.

So while this may seem like a minor geeky announcement, it is not. This is a major step forward in allowing businesses to ditch Windows. And Microsoft enabled this by expanding the licensing of ActiveSync.

I applaud Microsoft’s willingness to do this. Google’s new sync service also works with windows mobile devices. It is this type of relentless cannibilization of your own business that is the hallmark of companies that come through disruptive transitions alive. Microsoft sees the writing on the wall with Windows and even with Exchange and they are opening up the ecosystem and competing with their core products.

  • bstring

    This is worthy of a congratulations, as if being released from a POW camp. Why weren't desktops running OS X/Entourage already?

  • erlichson

    entourage is nothing great in our experience. the buzz seems to be that older versions were better than newer versions.

  • bstring

    I've had google sync on my blackberry, but contacts and calendar updates are not pushed, I have to initiate the sync. At least I don't think they are… Does this update for iPhone and WinMo push updates on the fly?

  • erlichson

    Not sure about the blackberry since it never really talked to exchange. It talked to the blackberry enterprise redirector. their video impies it works with exchange.

  • Don Smith

    Doesn't that really mean Exchange is still email and calendering king and actually improves their foothold in the back end office space?

  • erlichson

    When apple licensed ActiveSync for the mail client on the iPhone, that supported exchange. However, Google is not running, exchange, they are licensing ActiveSync so that Google services cane masquerade as an Exchange server for any client that supports ActiveSync. In the Google Services to iPhone example, neither client nor server is running a Microsoft product, although they are talking Microsoft's protocol. Who knows, this could be MS's strategy, to parlay their leadership position in enterprise email to owning a protocol that everyone standardizes on first to facilitate and transition but ultimately because of convenience.

  • madronemedia

    I have a Blackberry 8330 with googlesync installed. It does push contacts and calendar updates on my phone. Check the options setting in googlesync and make sure you update to the most recent one. I do believe that it will only since what is added since you installed sync, so previous contacts and events won't be pushed.

  • JJ Freitag

    How about hosted exchange or hosted zimbra? Didn't msft also just release their hosted service? All alternatives to on Orem exchange I'd think.

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