RealTime IT News

Plaxo Keeping Contacts in Sync

Keeping contacts synced between PCs and cell phones is about to get a whole lot easier. Plaxo, a contact management tool that integrates with Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express announced two new services that will unwire its contact synchronization service and extend its e-commerce reach.

Plaxo Mobile Access allows for WAP-enabled mobile devices to directly access Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express. With the new service Plaxo members will also be able to dial Outlook contact information from their mobile devices.

Plaxo's Send-to-Phone feature goes a step further and allows users to send via SMS, contact to their mobile device. The service is being offered through a partnership Plaxo has with Vazu.

"The way that works is that most cell phones today already support vcards and if you SMS a vcard to a phone, it will most likely accept it," Rikk Carey, executive vice president of Engineering and Operations for Plaxo told internetnews.com. "There are some tricks to that but basically it's an SMS gateway that sends a vcard to your phone."

Beyond contact synchronization, Plaxo is also moving into e-commerce. Plaxo users can create birthday and holiday lists from their contacts and send merchandise including flowers, gifts and books to contacts, because of a series of partnerships Plaxo has with online retailers, such as GrowerFlowers.com and Barnes & Noble. The e-commerce component is intended to be a simple add on that will make the fulfillment process easier, as well, since the contact information is already all up to date.

"The whole point here is to make something that's a bit of a pain -- sending birthday presents, gifts or cards -- and make it simple and easy and at the right place and time, " explained Carey.

The new premium services are expected to generate revenues for Plaxo that will help it to monetize its user base. The basic Plaxo product is free and, according to Carey, will remain free.