My desk at work looks a bit ridiculous as it is awash in cradles for the numerous handheld devices that I use, carry, and test. At the moment, I have cradles for the following four devices on my desk:
Handspring Treo 300
I am running three software programs to keep all of these devices in sync and I am constantly having problems keeping all of my data up to date. Why are all of these sync products so bad? I have a few ideas.
It drives me crazy that I 1) have to run three sync software packages in the first place and 2) that they all generate inter-application conflicts for simple data such as Contacts and Email messages in Outlook. I am convinced that the reason that many of these sync products do not play nicely with each other is that they are all rooted in a data ownership model. Each of these sync software packages assumes that they are the data owner and that they will be the sync product of choice. There seems to be little thought paid to the idea that a user might want to sync his or her data with multiple devices, each of which has its own peculiar methodology for recording changes and updating information.
There are probably two near-term solutions to this problem. One, I could buy (or have someone develop) a universal sync client that would handle all flavors of OS and all versions of Exchange and perhaps the most current version of Notes. Or, I could subscribe to a data-in-the-sky service that would be the de facto data repository for all of my information and would allow real-time access (as opposed to intermittent sync) to my data. Because so few people seem to struggle with this multi-client sync problem, I suspect that very few people, outside of a few bright startups, are working on this problem.