Monday, January 29, 2007

Backup: who pays whom for data storage?

From the mobile monday email list comes a new service: Mobyko. From their site, the immediate offering is free backup. This makes sense for the mainstream users, who have had to cope with the pain and frustration of lost numbers on top of their lost or replaced phones, and is a service that our industry has been amazingly remiss at making work better (not having any phone numbers makes it hard to spend money calling and texting people, let alone the more prosaic data charging possibilities for over the air backup). So operators are cottoning on and There are others in this space too, such as Fusion, Sharpcast, 02 reportedly rolling it out as an automatic feature, and Shozu adding it to their photo backup offering as a freebie.

I guess my two questions for this kind of service is: why you little startup and not the big, trusted brands with their existing networks, and what will be your business model if you're not going to take the data and sell it to 3rd parties?

Not long ago, people would have paid for this service (in fact people still are), in the same way that some people are still hiring a phone off AT&T with a monthly charge (something like $5). Now it's been offered for free by startups. Next step? Customers being able to auction off their data? I imagine this is something that the Root founders would have in mind. It's not just that the data could be used to target you for spam / targeted ads, it's the insight about people in general that can be gleaned from the information contained, such as the number and type of companies in the book. This is a tricky issue, and I'd be surprised to see a service thrive that does not either big brand recognition, or allow the user to control and benefit from their data in an innovative way. Will be watching with interest...


Alexandr3 said...

I think this is a very pertinent issue.

Backup data (and i'm talking about contacts and calendar notes) is something everyone thinks at least once. (hopefully not when the phone is lost)

The online backup solutions may seem reliable, but as you said the cost of it, may be bigger than the benefit. Not only this but also this kind of process tends to be complicated. And the majority of people don't bother to learn. even if it to improve their life quality.

But the backup is necessary. What th PCSuite does, to me is very interesting. Allowing you to back up your phone for free, when you need, and through (I think) an easier way. And safer too. I rather have my data in my PC than somewhere in the web, with a simpler acess to hacks...

Maybe Nokia could think about something even easier and comfortable for the user. Like an "alarm" that ops up asking the user to backup his data from time to time. Another thing is seamlessly backup the phone's data when you connect it to the PC either to download a music or upload a video. That would make backups easier, without the need of spending money in over the air solutions.


Anonymous said...

There is an email going round that lets you get Mobyko's premium service for free...

Type "Metro2" in the promotional code box on their homepage. Hey presto!

Alan said...

In response to your questions:

I believe that consumers are more likely to trust an independent brand such as Mobyko to store their highly personal data. I'm sure that this content would be very safe if stored with a network operator but equally it would be very difficult to retreive it should you switch operator - Mobyko is there to provide a basic free service and a premium chargeable service for the benefit of the consumer, not as a way of preventing churn by a network operator.

The Mobyko business model is similar to many companies in this sector - Start with a "freemium" service and then provide compelling chargeable services such as additional storage, web to mobile texting and downloads that are relevant to both the subscriber and the handset they use.

One thing Mobyko will never do is access a subscriber's data and the company will certainly never sell data to a 3rd party. Check out for the company's privacy policy.

As you say the immediate offering is free backup but do please watch this space for new ways for a user to control and benefit from their data in many innovative ways.