Today, Syncplicity launches its PC sync tool. Like the old-school FolderShare and the newer SugarSync (review), this product will keep the data on two machines (PCs only) in lockstep with each other. Syncplicity is in the hub-and-spoke camp (like SugarSync), not in the peer-to-peer world (FolderShare). This means that all the data that Syncplicity keeps track of for you is also stored on the company's servers.
There are advantages to this. Since the data is stored on an off-site server, the service becomes a passable backup and remote data access application. Also, the server-based architecture means your PCs don't have to be online at the same time to sync up. The downside, though, is that the storage costs the company money, so Syncplicity can't offer its service for free, as Microsoft does with FolderShare. Pricing for Syncplicity has not been set yet, but CEO Leonard Chung told me the single pricing scheme for the service will be in the ballpark of $20 a month.
That's a lot of money for the service, although if you have a lot of data to sync up it's a good deal when compared with SugarSync. Syncplicity gives you unlimited storage and bandwidth--you don't have to count bits when you use the service. HP's new online backup service Upline (review) similarly offers unlimited storage.
I found the service very easy to set up, and the online interface to stored data clear and attractive.
Syncplicity has another trick up its sleeve: It syncs your data to online services. At the moment, it will sync word processing files to your Google Docs account, letting you (theoretically) move between using a local word processor such as Microsoft Word and Google's Web-based word processor. In reality, since the file formats and feature sets of Word and Google Docs are very different, it doesn't quite work like that. Syncplicity forks a Word doc into a simpler version when you open it with Google, making for potentially confusing edit reconciliation if there are changes made to a complex document in Google and on the desktop.However, for easily sharing files (read-only) from your desktop, it's a good start. A similar feature will come to spreadsheets and presentation files.
The product also syncs photo libraries with Facebook, so you can bypass the whole awkward Facebook upload process. It creates private, or hidden, folder for you, which you can then make public on your profile when you want.
At the moment, the Google Web service integration seems to be a bit of a party trick, but the Facebook link-in is pretty clever. This concept is Syncplicity's real revenue stream. Chung told me he plans to strike deals with online service companies to get them to link to the platform. He wants to see online services integrate with peoples' desktop data stores. It's a good vision.
See also DocSyncer, which does Google/Word integration, and Box.net, which has a similar business model but not Syncplicity's desktop chops. And ThinkFree, which has an integrated online/offline suite.