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New service updates photo sites remotely

Sharpcast is ostensibly for updating changes to camera phone photos, but could also be used for data from business applications.

PHOENIX--A start-up company trying to make it easy for cell phone photographers to synchronize digital images between their phones and computers has developed a back-end system that soon could allow for similar instant updating of data from just about any kind of business application.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Sharpcast launched its photo synching service at the Demo '06 conference here this week. And in and of itself, that service impressed many observers.

That's because it's designed to let users take photos with their Pocket PC-based camera phones and have them automatically posted to the Web, all with the push of one button, said Sharpcast CTO and founder Ben Strong.

But it also lets users have any changes they make to the photos, such as added captions, either on their camera phone, in the Sharpcast desktop application or on its Web site, update automatically in either of the other two places.

The idea, said Strong, is that users with multiple devices or computers no longer have to worry about the fragmentation of their photo collections.

The real value of the Sharpcast software may come down the road, however. That's because, Strong said, the software is built to handle the same kind of auto-synchronizing between devices of any data from any kind of application.

For example, he said, Excel spreadsheets that users change on their Pocket PCs could be instantly updated on their computers. Theoretically, the same could be true of Outlook, Word or nearly any other application, Strong said.