German startup fruux provides a pretty handy cross-platform synchronization service for contacts, calendars and to-do lists – it’s a back-end for this data that syncs with mobile and desktop devices and mail clients, so that once an entry is edited on one, that change propagates across the rest.
However, it has until now only been a back-end, requiring any management – or even viewing — of the data to take place through a third-party client, such as Outlook or the iPhone. And so the company has started rolling out front-end web applications too, starting with a contacts app.
Founder Dominik Tobschall told me:
“We wanted to make it easier to get started. It’s less confusing for the user, especially when you’re dealing with shares. In the past, when an existing user tried to invite his colleague into an address book, that person would sign up but would [immediately] have to set up a device. Now they can get started with it without setting up the device.
“It’s really working slowly towards being your address book and calendar rather than just being your sync service.”
Fruux, whose open-sourced SabreDAV synchronization technology is used by the likes of Box and Kolab, is very keen on open standards. It uses the WebDAV, CardDAV and CalDAV standards, which it says should reassure any users who worry about future lock-in.
Annoyingly, Tobschall wouldn’t talk user numbers – when we last spoke in March 2012, fruux claimed 100,000 users, but Tobschall would only say on Thursday that the company is “happy” with its growth rate.
Whatever that rate is, fruux’s new front-end apps should provide something of a boost. And as someone who is less than a fan of platform lock-in, I’m intrigued to see where the company is heading with this – a cross-platform, open-standards tool for maintaining personal data is certainly a worthy goal.