SMS is the new black

A review of mass market mobile apps

Tuesday feature – The virtues of mobile data back-up with Mobyko

Posted by Admin on December 2, 2008

Nearly all of us have experienced a lost or damaged phone at one point in our lives. Thankfully most people are sensible enough to take out insurance so the lost handset can be replaced with few problems, but that doesn’t stop the pain, hassle and frustration from lost data from the handset.

As modern phones can be used for much more than just calling and texting – a phone is now a camera, video recorder, music player, game console and internet browsing device all rolled into one – a lost phone can mean lost photos, lost videos, lost music, lost game purchases and the mother of all loses … phone contacts. Backing-up data has become just as important as insuring the phone itself. So what options exist for consumers looking to secure their data?

Vodafone’s acquisition of Danish firm Zyb in May 2008 brought the issue of mobile data back-up into the public domain. As well as Vodafone/Zyb the UK market has O2’s Bluebook service and Mobyko, an independent that is making waves with its service which is described by the CEO as “MobileMe for the masses”.

mobykoSign-up to Mobyko is painless and straight-forward with a four step process and easy to follow-on screen diagrams to guide every technophobe through the set-up. Once registered an OTA (over the air) connection is established with the company’s server (using a small amount of data) and hey presto the precious data is secured faster than you can say “synchronised wireless back-up”.

Wireless address books generally follow the ‘does what it says on the tin’ approach, after all there are only so many ways you can store information on the web. That said, Mobyko boasts some unique features which differentiate it from the competition.

Like Zyb and Bluebook, Mobyko’s basic service is free service but it is unique in being operator agnostic, allowing its users to retain, use and add data if they change service provider, or even move countries.

The company also offers a premium service, at a cost of £24.99 per year (free to young person railcard holders), which gives a monthly allowance of 100 text messages per month, 250Mb of storage for multimedia content, monthly SMS synch reminders and “dedicated VIP customer support”.

Saving the best until last, Mobyko’s most distinguishing feature is its integration with Facebook.

Mobyko users can configure their account to store their friend’s Facebook profile pictures on their mobile device. When a call is then received the caller’s most recent Facebook profile picture will then appear (in full size) on the phone’s screen. It’s an innovative and potentially very popular feature with the potential to bring new users to the service direct from the UK’s favourite social media website.


Julian Saunders

The Facebook mash-up is the highest profile feature to take advantage of the recently opening of the company’s APIs. Mobyko CEO Julian Saunders disclosed that further projects are likely to include low-cost calling integration and integration with sites like Twitter and Flickr. One would expect more consumer-aimed features as Mobyko looks to broaden its appeal to the non-techy audience.

Mobyko currently holds 4,492,662 contacts (a massive increase from 700,000 when Mobile Industry Review looked at the service 18 months ago), with an average of around 150 contacts per user that gives it an estimated user base of around 30,000. These are somewhat disappointing figures given the potential for the service, and one would expect the number to grow as knowledge of and need for the service increases with the continued growth of smartphone ownership and Mobyko’s visibility on mainstream social networking resources.

For the average mobile user, whose voice this blog represents, Mobyko is a no-lose opportunity. At a basic level it is a free service which will prevent the troubles of lost data when a phone is damaged or stolen, but its broader appeal is Facebook link. With Facebook now reporting it has 15 million active users of its mobile services, Mobyko will look to entice a percentage of these less technology-savvy users to the world of wireless address books: a world that isn’t as technical as they may think.


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