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Will the iPhone (Eventually) Become a Netbook for the Connected Workplace ?

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This morning I ran across a review of a new iPhone app that brings some of the power and flexibility of cloud computing to the iPhone for working with a range of documents … perfect for workers on the go.

That capability is not new … lots of mobile devices let people work with documents.  However, the iPhone’s revolutionary screen and ease-of-use have obviously been a hot, and there’s been lots of speculation over the past year or so about 1) the iPhone being the precursor of a Netbook, and 2) Apple’s growing interest in the business / workplace markets.

This app … Soonr … provides us with an early signal about capabilities that almost certainly will be widely available, if not standard and expected, within another year or so.

Via the VentureBeat blog

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Soonr nails the desktop to cloud to iPhone connection for documents
MG SIEGLER

In today’s world, rarely do we get the opportunity to be sequestered somewhere for a long period of time to work on a project. The rise of laptops and now mobile phones means that business can be done from various places at various times. Some may not like this reality, but it is just that: A reality.

Soonr, of Campbell, Calif., is a company that works within that reality by granting you access to your documents on the go, and today it is launching an application to extend its reach to the hot iPhone platform.

Here’s how Soonr works: You download the Soonr client to your desktop computer (PC or Mac) or laptop and choose which files you want to sync with Soonr’s servers in the cloud (networked computers that get and service your data over the Internet). After the initial sync uploads all your files, the application makes sure these files are continually updated as they are being edited, so that the latest version is ready for you to access from the cloud.

That means that by using Soonr’s free iPhone app, you can now access these files from your phone no matter where you are. And, thanks to the auto-backups, you never have to worry about or try to remember if you synced your documents before you left the office — it all happens as you’re updating them.

And while there are other applications that offer such functionality, Soonr is the fastest one I’ve seen because it doesn’t make you pull an entire file down before you can start looking at it. Instead, it requests from the cloud only the data it needs. This is useful if you have a huge PDF or PowerPoint, but don’t want or need to see the entire thing.

The application displays documents in a very nice, Apple-like way. For example, if you look at a document with multiple pages, you can hit one of the buttons on the toolbar to see a birds-eye view of all the pages and jump to just the one you want. Right now there is support for 40 different file types, but unfortunately you cannot directly edit any of them on the iPhone yet — but that’s something that Soonr isn’t ruling out in the future.

The app also allows you to easily send any of these files to another person via email or text message. And you can print a document right from your iPhone on to any printer connected to the network you are on. There is even a social aspect which allows you to comment on a document if you are working on it with multiple people.

And you can see when other documents that people have shared with you have been edited or have new notes — something which will be very useful for businesses.

And that’s one way that Soonr plans to make money. While the iPhone app may be free and users can store up to 500 megabytes of data for free, a white label version of the service provided through mobile operators and online software (SaaS) providers can bring a more powerful version of the service to business users.

And if those potential users are concerned that the service is just catering to the iPhone — which is popular with consumers, but still not as popular in business markets — rest assured that Soonr actually works with over 600 devices currently, because it works on a variety of mobile web browsers.

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