Startup Debuts Server Service For One

Fledgling software and digital appliance vendor Ispiri, Wednesday said it is taking the PC to its next level by unveiling a new Linux-based personal server.

Dubbed “MIRRA”, the standalone box works with photos, e-mail and other important digital content, and therefore is especially helpful for small and home office users. The idea is to help consumers easily protect and remotely access their digital files without piecing together arrays of components and software.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company said it will begin shipping MIRRA in mid-October. Pricing will begin at USD$399. Specific details of processor performance and storage capabilities were not disclosed. Ispiri CEO Richard Mandeberg said that initial sales will be handled through the company’s Web site, and added that discussions are underway with major retailers to expand distribution after that.

The company may have an easy road to distribution considering Tim Bucher, a former Microsoft and WebTV executive founded Ispiri in 2002. Bucher, who is chairman of Ispiri, also currently serves as V.P. of Macintosh Systems at Apple Computer . It should also be able to distinguish itself from even the top-tier server vendors as it has 12 patents pending on its MIRRA intellectual property.

“We all have years of irreplaceable digital content sitting on our computers, and MIRRA was born of the belief that the lifetime value of our content far exceeds the lifetime value of the PC it resides on,” said Mandeberg, who unveiled MIRRA before the audience of the DEMOmobile trade show this week. “Our sole focus is giving people a really simple and affordable solution to keep that content protected, ready to share, and accessible from anywhere.”

At a time when consumers and professionals are acquiring more digital appliances every day, Mandeberg says MIRRA makes life easier, streamlining many of the manual tasks people must undertake to manage their collection of digital files. According to Mandeberg, the server operates like a “digital file genie,” enabling users to save, send and synchronize data with others and allowing for anywhere access without complex manual requirements.

Aside from the organizational benefits MIRRA provides, the company says the product offers a two-pronged security solution that keeps digital files safe and access to the files secure. First, because the device runs on Linux, it exists separately from a user’s Windows or Macintosh operating system, meaning that any worms or viruses that attack the operating system will not corrupt MIRRA as well. Secondly, the device enables users to attach Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) identities to each file, enabling users to pick and choose who has access to which files once the device goes online.

However the product also addresses security, which industry statistics indicate is the market opportunity that company executives say MIRRA can capitalize on. Recent research from IDC stated that at the end of 2002, 17.4 million homes and small businesses were equipped with broadband, and that 12 million households were networked in one capacity or another. The same statistics showed that more than 20 percent of U.S. households also have digital cameras.

“As the number of multiple PC households increases, there is a growing need for a central repository of files that are archived, versioned, and sharable among friends and family,” said Randy Giusto, vice president of personal technology for research firm IDC. “PC users… know that any solution must be easy to use and worry-free, and present solutions are anything but that.”

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