The Cloud's Killer Application: Mobile Media?

While there still seems to be some consternation and confusion among many IT departments as to exactly where cloud computing based services will ultimately be of most use, the unusually named open source cloud provider Funambol is firmly of the belief that rich media over mobile devices holds the key.

By ‘rich media‘ we mean of course images and video as well as animation, audio and even highly interactive ‘content’ such as social networking applications.

The software product in question here is the newly released Funambol v8.5, which allows users to ‘synch’ pictures and other rich media (as well as email, contacts address books and other text-based data) between mobile devices and the open cloud. The company says that, “Once synced, pictures and mobile data can be viewed online, synced with connected devices and shared with social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.”

For the record, nobody has defined the open cloud itself very clearly, least of all the Open Cloud Manifesto.org, but we can probably safely assume that it means any part of the commonly agreed cloud infrastructure that is not a part of the proprietary ‘closed clouds’ belonging to Amazon, Microsoft and Google etc.

Well first of all, so what? Users can now host (sorry that should be ‘synch’) rich media up to data centres housed on cloud based servers and get their images onto Facebook. Hadn’t we been doing that already with our iPhones and BlackBerrys etc? Well yes, but these are proprietary platforms says Funambol and this particular product is cross platform – it supports Android, Symbian, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, Mac OS and others.

OK, still so what? More of the same and from more users, I’m still not excited. Who benefits? Is it the mobile operators, the device manufacturers or the users? We won’t ask Funambol that question because we know they’ll tell us it’s all three.

Don’t forget, it’s Funambol’s platform that is open source, not its services, maintenance, consultancy, enterprise level partner agreements or the cheese sandwiches in its staff canteen for that matter.

Probably most in line to benefit are the mobile operators and Internet Service Providers who are looking for a means to satisfy the growing demand from subscribers to share data and rich media from all their connected devices anywhere. For mobile operators, Funambol asserts that its technology provides the means to re-establish customer relationships that have been lost to device manufacturers themselves and users tapping into their ISP’s online platform while at home.

Anyone can try the software for free on the myFUNAMBOL demo portal at http://my.funambol.com for 90 days, or users can use it with Funambol’s commercial customers.

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