What if a contact list was more than mere names, phone numbers, and email addresses, and instead helped pull in social networking information? Tel Aviv-based Sync.Me, formerly known as SmartSync, announced this week that it has raised $4 million from private investors to do just that. The company’s iPhone app has been downloaded over five million times and it says it is syncing one billion contacts around the world on a weekly basis. The company will be using the funding to build out an Android app and a Facebook app, giving more users the opportunity to store their information on the company’s servers to allow for syncing across multiple platforms.
Co-founder and CEO Shlomo Unger spoke with BetaKit about the company’s growth, and how he believes their approach fundamentally differs from what Facebook and Apple have attempted to date. “We have unique algorithms, much better than what Facebook and iPhone. They are matching between contacts and Facebook friends through [a] match on your name. What we are doing is matching…you and your friends via phone numbers,” said Unger. “So we have a completely different approach to synchronizing between social network and mobile devices. Everyone is registered by their phone number, so we have a unique ID stored on our server. Using that ID we sync it with your contacts in a very accurate way.”
After users download the app, sign up and enter their phone number, the service updates a user’s iPhone contacts with details like real-time status updates, birthdays, and the contact’s most recent Facebook profile picture. However, perhaps more importantly with the company using the phone number as a unique ID, it can keep the contact information as accurate and up-to-date as possible, even when a user changes their information, taking out the usual headache when changing numbers.
The app is free to download with the company looking to roll out some premium features down the road, though Unger said the current focus remains on growing users on the platform. Some of those premium features will include being able to add additional details to an iPhone contact list, in addition to working with businesses whose numbers are saved on a user’s phone to give them more information to help them better customize their service.
Some iOS users might not see the need for Sync.Me, since Apple’s Contact.app does sync with Facebook since the release of iOS 6. BetaKit also covered the launch of Brewster, an address book app that integrates across multiple social platforms to build a virtual community or street, and creates smart lists around categories like professions, workplaces and friends in common, in addition to alerting a user when they’re in danger of losing touch with someone. However, the company believes that once it launches its Android app it will have the largest repository of synced phone numbers across the world, making it a much better source.
“Right now we are the largest community, and we have the biggest amount of information stored on our server, and [users] will prefer to be updated by our database rather than trying to login or sync with a small database,” Unger added. “So we believe after we launch our Android version it will enlarge our user base in a way that we will become after 10 million registered users the largest community that match between phone number and social number that will make it very difficult to compete with us.”
The company is planning to launch its Android app in December, and will be announcing additional social network integrations down the line. Unger also hinted that they are working on developing a feature that will change how professionals share their contact information. With a large and steadily growing user base, the company’s app has the potential to change smartphone user’s static contact list into a dynamic social network in its own right, but it will have to prove to users that it goes above and beyond what iOS users can already do in their contact list.