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6/13/2007
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TransMedia Follows Google Gears Into Desktop Apps

The company plans to release software that will let Linux users synchronize their files with remote copies on its Glide hosted file sharing and storage service to other platforms.

Cloud computing benefits from ground support. Google, having recently released its Google Gears API to augment browser-based Internet applications with local storage and processing power, clearly recognizes this.

TransMedia, a cross-platform computing startup, sees the same situation and is about further blur the boundaries between local and remote computing, between fractious systems, and between devices that just don't talk to one another.

On June 27th, TransMedia said it plans to release software that will let Linux users synchronize their files with remote copies on TransMedia's Glide hosted file sharing and storage service, on other computers running Linux, Mac OS X or Windows, and on mobile devices.

The New York-based company also plans to release updated online browser-based productivity applications -- Glide Address Book, Glide Calendar, and Glide Chat -- and later to complement its Web-based applications with local desktop versions of the software that run natively under Linux, Mac OS X and Windows.

The first of these programs will be desktop versions of Glide Address Book and Glide Calendar. These will be followed in September by Glide Spreadsheet (featuring macro support and pivot tables), E-mail Client, Photo Editor, Calculator, Stickies, Music and Video Jukebox, RSS Feed Reader, and CD Ripper, according to the company. In the fall, TransMedia expects to release a desktop word processor, Glide Write, and a presentation program, Glide Presenter.

Glide Address Book and Glide Calendar feature automatic synchronization and updating, so that any changes made get propagated across the owner's devices and to friends and colleagues sharing that information.

Donald Leka, CEO of TransMedia, argues that Glide's cross-platform, cross-device approach offers the benefits of anytime access promised by cloud computing with the functionality and responsiveness of desktop computing. He contends that browser-based applications running locally under Google Gears won't be able to match native desktop applications.

"Google has marched their troops to the border but they've stopped there," said Leka, who sees the Google Docs online word processor as a pulled punch rather than a real effort to challenge Microsoft. "Nobody wants to disrupt the game too much except us." TransMedia's business model isn't all that disruptive: The company sells online storage, social computing, and software as a subscription service. A lot of Web 2.0 companies do that, though TransMedia, with its burgeoning desktop presence, looks like it will have an edge when it comes to offline operation, at least until Google Gears gathers steam.

What makes TransMedia disruptive is that its Glide service defies brand-based lock-in. Glide makes peace between Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. It makes information far more portable than it currently is, allowing content to move with ease between phones from different manufacturers, to Internet-connected TVs, and to computers running any of the three leading operating systems.

Without a brand-based difference in user experience, sellers of content become much more important than sellers of technology. Fear of that future is one reason Apple's iPhone limits the third-party developer access and enforces a non-standard method of touch-based interaction that doesn't translate to other devices or mobile apps.

Google remains a leader in terms of organizing the world's information and making it universally accessible and useful. When it comes to your information, TransMedia has got the accessibility part of the equation pretty much figured out.

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