Google (NSDQ: GOOG) just beat Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) at its own game. The internet giant announced today on its blog that it is now allowing people to sync their Google calendar appointments and Gmail contacts to the native calendar and contact applications on the iPhone and Windows Mobile devices. Meanwhile, Microsoft just confirmed that next week it will announce a new set of services, called My Phone, which will allow people to manage their contacts and calendars on the Web and then sync it to a computer and mobile phone.
This is much like the MobileMe service being offered by Apple (NSDQ: AAPL). Although Microsoft’s service is more comprehensive because it also helps you manage pictures and text messages on the device, when it finally launches, it will operate in a invitation-only beta. Of course, Microsoft has been offering email, calendar and contact sync for some time on Windows Mobile devices through its Active Sync services, but these new Web services are clearly aimed at the mainstream, rather than the enterprise market.
The new services launched by Google are based on the one they released a year ago for Blackberry devices. It supports two-way syncing, meaning that when a new contact is added on the phone, it will show up online and vice versa. It is also nice because the data will be stored in the contact and calendar applications that come with the phone, not in a separate application that wouldn’t be accessible from the phone’s dialer. The technology will also sync instantly, whereas Microsoft’s service will update once a night.
The one very critical thing to note about the Google Sync service, however, is that it will “replace all existing contacts and calendar information on your phone.” So, if your iPhone and Gmail accounts aren’t identical, be careful. This space has become very crowded in the last year with Google, Microsoft, Apple and Nokia (NYSE: NOK), all cooking up solutions for the various platforms. One thing that they will all have to help manage is avoiding deleting contacts, and also avoiding contact duplication.