RealTime IT News

In Search of Smarter Phones

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. - Ditch the notebook for a smartphone? It may not yet be a mainstream idea, but there's an explosion of mobile applications making the concept more viable. Several mobile vendors showed applications that bring new capabilities to handheld devices here today at the AlwaysOn Venture Summit.

PageOnce gives users the ability to check credit card information like recent transactions and credit limits as well as bank information including statements, balance and activities. The service is available for RIM BlackBerry devices, Windows Mobile and the iPhone.

"We let you see an overview of all your credit cards, where you might be overdue and things like detailed stock information," said Guy Goldstein, CEO of PageOnce. His startup has attracted 250,000 daily users since its launch earlier this year.

PageOnce has deals with a number of financial institutions that lets users connect to "thousands of accounts." Goldstein said its proprietary technology is designed to be a productivity suite for smart phones, adding things like alerts when an account is overdue.

Goldstein said PageOnce is the most popular mobile banking app on the iPhone and the company has close ties to RIM. It's working on adding transactional capabilities including bill payments.

As part of the Venture Summit format, presentations were critiqued for their potential as viable businesses.

"It's an amazing tool as far as it goes," said Drew Clark, Director of Strategy for IBM's Venture Capital Group. But he questioned whether PageOnce is too late developing transaction capabilities, when mobile online payment systems like Obopay and others are already available.

"Are you being aggressive enough?" he asked. Goldstein responded PageOnce is negotiating with banks and also utility companies for its early payment offerings.

Can voicemail be fun?

YouMail.com claims to have jazzed up voicemail to make it more compelling. The company's marketing slogan is "Love your voicemail."

The free, ad-supported service includes features such as visual voicemail, voice-to-text (so you can read your voicemails as text messages or e-mail), filtering to lock out telemarketers, and "smart greetings" that let you customize different greetings for family, friends and co-workers.

The YouMail Web site also has a kind of community or social network for rating and exchanging popular greetings.

"It's very compelling, I want this," said IBM's Clark. "The community aspect impresses me."

YouMail CEO Alex Quilici said his company has licensing deals with some regional carriers to include the service and also makes money by charging for premium transcription services and special greetings that are separate from the free ones.

ZipClip Web content to your cellphone

ZipClip aims to take the hassle out of loading Web content onto cell phones. "Loading up ringtones, wallpaper, video, music and games has become a daily ritual for the 13 to 30 year olds with cell phones," said Babur Ozden, CEO of ZipClip. "But there are two pain points to adding content. Either you pay for it or it's free, but you have to invest a lot of time and effort."

ZipClip is free and designed to be used on a notebook or desktop computer. Ozden said Web surfers can send objects they find on the Web and send them to their mobile device with a simple right click of the mouse.

He said ZipClip came out of stealth mode about four months ago and has already inked deals with China's largest portal, sina.com, which gets a billion impressions a day and KU6, the largest video sharing site in China with 80 million video views a day.

"I'm savvy enough to do this [download content without ZipClip], but most people aren't," said Eric Ver Ploeg, a managing director with VantagePoint Venture Partners. He added that ZipClick has the potential to reach a wide audience of consumers, but questioned whether the company is too dependent on Web partners.