The killer feature Windows Phone 8 needs to make a dent in the smartphone wars

Android is the brand of choices. They let you pick your carrier, color, and device maker.  Android offers options and flexibility.  Apple iPhone is the brand for a magical ecosystem that works in harmony if you use their phone, apps, and computers.  The user experience is unparalleled.

And Windows Phone plans to make a dent…?

They can indeed.  The answer lies in looking at the past and coming to terms with their core.  Once upon a time, people preferred the old Microsoft Windows Mobile devices over popular BlackBerry and Palm Treo options because of the tight integration Microsoft delivered with business software like Exchange, ActiveSync, Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel, and other business apps.  Windows Mobile shipped with a fluent user experience (much like Apple today) if you lived within Microsoft’s software, back-end, and phones.

The key to Windows Phone 8 making a dent is to reintroduce tight integration to their own business software suite of Microsoft Office.  It’s surprising (and ridiculous) this even needs to be stated.  Here’s an 86-page(!) and growing thread of frustrated people who just want their old ActiveSync desktop client back for plain old USB sync between a Windows Phone and Microsoft Outlook.  This is yester-year’s technology folks!  No breakthrough needed — just bring it back!

In the push towards cloudifying everything, Microsoft has forgotten their past.  At their core, they are a company focused on the productivity audience.  MS Office is still their breadwinner and still the go-to app for people at work, home, school, fill in the blank…

Just a thought.

Unlimited Outlook sync for people buying the Galaxy S2 on T-Mobile’s new unlimited internet access plans

T-Mobile and Walmart are offering the Samsung Galaxy S2 off-contract for $299.  You sign up with T-Mobile’s new unlimited internet access (data) and texting for just $30 per month. No annual subscriptions.

That’s a great offer for people averse to contracts. Granted, the S2 is an older phone.  But it is one of the most popular Android devices ever!

Folks will need a way to load their contacts and calendar events on their S2.  CompanionLink offers software to load your S2 with data from popular PC apps like Microsoft Outlook.  The 14-day trial is free and offers unlimited data sync. If you wish to continue synchronizing, prices start as low as $14.95.

Will Nokia and Microsoft introduce first Windows Phone 8 device on September 5, 2012?

Fresh off of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.1 announcement, Nokia and Microsoft have sent out invitations to a joint event to be held in New York on September 5.  Will this be the unveiling of the first Windows Phone 8 device?

Instead of fleeing to Android like every other device manufacturer has, Nokia has double-downed on the Windows Phone platform.  This presents a high-risk/high-reward situation for a company that is slowly climbing out of a financial slumber brought on by the onslaught of iPhone and Android.  Nokia is to the Windows Phone platform what Samsung is to Android.

Inconclusive is whether Windows Phone 8 really goes mainstream.  There exists a huge open niche in the business market.  BlackBerry is quickly losing their foothold in mobile business because of their antiquated operating system.  Android and iPhone have chosen to primarily focus on the consumer crowd by emphasizing audio, video, social media, and gaming.  Windows Phone 8 has an opportunity to take cater squarely to business people who have been forced to kludge together apps and solutions to get a business tool that works for them.  Wouldn’t a business mobile device be a great fit with Microsoft’s bread winner, Microsoft Office?

CompanionLink is watching Nokia and Microsoft closely.  As CompanionLink pivots to mobile business CRM, we’re hoping Windows Phone 8 aligns with business people also.  Yes, we’ll be there to support them.  Like Nokia, we may even double-down.

Galaxy Note a popular device for business professionals

Samsung confirms that they have sold 10 million Galaxy Note devices since its inception nine months ago. I can attest to the popularity of Galaxy Note to the business audience.  Without getting into specific numbers, the Galaxy Note is third to only Galaxy SIII and Galaxy SII for the business audience we sell to.

It appears that professionals on the go really need a device that’s just big enough to be productive on, but without the excess baggage or cost of a large display like the iPad.  Not their laptop.  Not a full-blown tablet.

CompanionLink offers a $14.95 complete solution for owners of a Galaxy Note to sync with their business data in Microsoft Outlook and many other popular CRM tools.

Hacked clouds

Steve Wozniak predicts that the Cloud is going to be a “horrendous” place in the near future. We tend to agree, if Woz is referring to large players in the cloud market who attract ire.

Amazon, Apple, Dropbox, and Google have all been in the news cycle this week due to hacked or breached data that is stored in their secure clouds. The only Goliath spared the doom and gloom is, ironically, Microsoft. Mat Honan’s situation has become the talk of the town. But for every Honan, there are many others whose cloud security plight doesn’t reach mainstream news.

With this week’s dust-up, it’s clear that while the marketing departments at each of these companies want you to believe that you own your data and everything is meticulously watched-after, what they really mean is anyone with half a brain can own your account and data if a few security questions are answered correctly to a customer service “specialist” who also happens to be a college student. (No offense against college students.)

None of this is new. Hacked clouds and online security breaches have been happening since made “cloud” armchair language. However, the more dust that flies due to breaches, the harder it becomes for business decision makers to move their enterprises to the cloud. Imagine how many companies were close to migrating their enterprise to the cloud last week, only to have pulled the reigns and wait for a better day when they can look their customers in the eye.

What we need is the emergence of private clouds that are not run by the Goliaths who have a financially vested interest to mine, sell, advertise, or otherwise disclose your data.

Small private turnkey clouds are too mundane to catch the ire of hackers. Think of the Windows OS virus magnet compared to the fledgling Mac OS X in the early days. Fewer hackers went after OS X because Apple wasn’t Goliath (oh the irony) and didn’t have the aura of world dominance. Our society thrives on small underdogs who fight to provide a more honest experience to people.

Where are the honest private clouds?

Outlook 2010 with

Gregg from Computerworld has a very informative technical article about the new service Microsoft announced yesterday. In his article, we noticed this little nugget.

Outlook(.com) also syncs with Outlook 2013, the email client that’s part of the Office 2013 suite, which was released as a preview last month. It also synchronizes with the Metro-ized Mail app in Windows 8, although you’ll have to add your new to the app.

People using Outlook 2010 or older will not be able to sync with the new service without extra help. This is because the Outlook 2010 client does not support Exchange ActiveSync. However, there is a way to do it.

CompanionLink synchronizes Outlook 2010 contacts and calendar with  (We can’t sync email. If you need email sync, check out this)  Set up CompanionLink for Outlook (free to try; $14.95 or higher to buy) to sync an / Windows Live account to Microsoft Outlook 2010.  Here’s what your configuration in CompanionLink should look like.

Sync Outlook 2010 to




CompanionLink supports two-way sync with Microsoft Office Outlook 2013

Early word from our R&D team is that CompanionLink will fully support Outlook 2013 Preview in our next software update. This means people can sync Outlook 2013 People (formerly known as Contacts), Calendar, Tasks, and Notes with the latest Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry and webOS devices.  You can also sync Office 2013 with Google, Gmail, and Windows Live accounts.

We’re excited about Microsoft’s initiatives to merge the cloud with desktop platforms. CompanionLink is looking into ways to sync directly with Office 365.  Please bookmark this blog post and we’ll update it as we learn more. There is lots more to come.

One thing the rumored Facebook phone can do to win business users (it’s not what you think!)

Answer: build into the phone an efficient way to sync with Microsoft Outlook (the most popular contact, calendar, and email software on the planet).

Many small and medium businesses don’t use an Exchange Server.  They can’t afford one or the maintenance costs required to keep the behemoth running. Also, most folks are super-scared to host their data online. They’ve heard the tug-n-war stories between who really owns your data, and who does what with your data. They know any time you put something into the cloud, chances are it will be parsed by some robot or spider. Depending on who the spider’s owner is, that data is often used to sell services, ads, or other things.

All business people want is a phone that plugs into their business tools without having to download apps. Just make it possible out of the box – a simple way to get their email, contacts, and calendar to work in both Outlook and their phone.

Email is easy. Just set up Outlook and your phone to use IMAP. Viola. Done.

Contacts and calendar need a simple solution that’s similar to (dare we say) 15-year-old  called HotSync.

  1. Plug your phone into the PC
  2. Watch your data sync automatically.
  3. Done. As in, “Yes, it is really that simple.”

Now that Facebook is grown up (viz. publicly traded), they need to pay more attention to business users that represent a large (and paying) market.

Take our word for it because we’ve been catering to the business crowd with mobile devices for 20 years – they just want a phone that can manage their data in a simple way without any third-party apps. If Facebook can pull off this magic, they’ll instantly win over the business crowd even though they are shipping a social media phone. How ironic would that be?

Syncing the Samsung Galaxy S III

If you’re in the market for a new smartphone these days, odds are you’ve heard about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S III. If not, I’d encourage you to go read about it here.

Go ahead. We’ll wait.

The Galaxy S III’s predecessor, aptly name the Galaxy S II, has been one of the most popular Android phones among our customers over the past year. And based on what we’ve heard about the new Galaxy S III, we’re expecting it to be quite popular as well.

While we don’t have an S III in-house to test just yet, we do know enough about it to say with a high degree of confidence that CompanionLink will be able to sync with the S III right out of the box. Of course, once we get our hands on one, we’ll confirm this.

And if you just can’t wait another month or so for the S III to launch, we’re pretty big fans of the HTC One X too. And, of course, it syncs with CompanionLink!

Will a (virtual) keyboard save RIM and the BlackBerry device?

The biggest news item from BlackBerry World 2012 is the new virtual keyboard on the BB OS 10. It uses magic (e.g., predictive analysis and the like) to suggest words you are attempting to type before you can finish typing. You can simply flick the suggested words up to apply them.

Neat, but definitely not a leapfrog in technology. RIM really needs a leapfrog to stay relevant. Gartner predicts RIM has lost nearly half of their market to Apple and Google.

There’s a lot riding on this virtual keyboard.