It’s 2008. Why is Sync Still Such A Sore Spot?

I recently replaced my SO’s trusty old Sony Ericsson K750 with a sparkling new Samsung SGH-U600. Decent little phone, for the most part, and she seems happy enough with it. Of course part of the “sales experience” entails me moving all her contacts over. I’ve not really had a problem syncing contacts since I switched to a Mac a few years back. I’m no Mac zealot, but iSync is, by far, the best sync solution I’ve ever used.

In any case, I figured, hey, it’s 2008 — syncing contacts should be no problem.

Ha. Famous last words.

The new Samsung isn’t supported by iSync, so that’s strike one. So I turn to the excellent Zyb service. It uses SyncML over the air to suck the contacts off of the K750, easy peasy. Then, of course, the Samsung’s not supported by Zyb. Strike two.

Fortunately, Zyb lets me export the contacts into a VCF file. I export that, copy it onto a USB drive, then reboot my Mac into Windows XP — because, of course, Samsung’s PC sync software doesn’t run on Macs. So I reboot… struggle a little with Outlook Express to import the contacts from the file, then install the Samsung PC software, fiddle a bit to import the contacts into it properly, then hook up the handset via USB and hit the sync button.

That, of course, doesn’t work and I’ve got to mess with it for a few minutes more to get things done.

I get there in the end, but not without spending far too much time and way too much effort. I realize I bought this device outside the normal operator-centric supply chain (I bought it from an import shop), but still, we’re both T-Mobile customers, and it would be nice to see the operator step up and offer some sort of assistance here. There’s plenty of blame for Samsung, too, which didn’t bother to implement SyncML in the U600 in such a way that Zyb can work. It could also do iSync plug-ins for its device, like other vendors have done.

If you have a handset that works with Zyb, you’re laughing — their service is great. But I doubt many normobs get there on their own. If you work for an operator, get some deal going with Zyb or one of its competitors and provide and promote the service to your customers. After all, doesn’t it behoove you to make them happy and help them have the best experience possible? If you’re a handset vendor, take a proactive stance and make it as easy as possible for people to transfer contacts. Fully support standards like SyncML, make your PC software work on multiple platforms, take advantage of programs like iSync.

Seriously, it’s endlessly frustrating that it’s 2008 and this sort of stuff is still an issue. Sure, our phones have 5-megapixel cameras and GPS and accelerometers and all kinds of other flashy stuff, but dammit, you’re going to have to enter your contacts by hand. See my post from August 2005 along largely similar lines. Nearly three years, and not a whole hell of a lot has changed. Well, I guess at least it provides an opportunity for the likes of Zyb to come in and have some success…

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