Kinetic Tide, now called Avvenu is one of the handful of place-shifting companies that is trying hard to unwire the desktop, making it easier for us to share and access our digital content anywhere, anytime. (Sling Media and Orb Networks are others, and I am sure there are many more in stealth mode out there!) To remind readers, a small piece of client runs on a windows desktop, and communicates with a Avvenu gateway, which acts as a conduit for mobile users to access their desktop content. Users can send links to their friends and family and share photos and other digital content. The agent can retrofit images, music and videos to meet the narrow wireless pipes without really impacting the originals.
Last week I had a chance to visit with officials from Palo Alto-based start-up and grill them over the progress made by the company since I wrote about them in October 2004 issue of Business 2.0 (Home Entertainment to go!). First, the service which is expected to go in beta anytime soon, perhaps as early as next week, and will launch in June 2005, once all the kinks have been ironed out. In addition, the company is gearing up to go out and raise second round of funding. First round investors include Charles River Ventures and World View Ventures. If the progress made by the company is indicator, then it will be raining cash.
Avvenu has inked a deal with Motorola, which is going to include the mobile client of the software in their next generation of handsets. I saw the client embedded in some of the next generation phones, and it worked seamlessly even on slow GPRS networks. The client could event pull PDF files off the desktop and let me read the content, pretty easily.
It is not hard to imagine Motorola for instance embedding this client in its set-top box, and cell phones and sell it to its cable customers, who have wireless (MVNO) ambitions, as a way to distinguish themselves from other four-play companies. An extra $5 a month won’t hurt the ARPU either.
More such deals are in the works, but the officials are mum about the future plans. David Trescot, VP of marketing for the company explained that unlike some of their peers, the company was going to partner with established handset makers and wireless/wireline operators to get traction in the market place. They want to be the brand-behind-brand, Trescot explained. (In other words, there is a revenue model that might actually work!)
This is polar opposite of Orb Networks, which is going for the “free” route, and is allowing consumers to sign-up for its service, in hopes for building traction. Avvenu’s strategy might actually be better, because they incur low marketing costs, and at the same time become part of the “wireless establishment.”
Still the most exciting aspect of Avvenu is its open API which will allow third party developers to develop add-on applications on either the agent side (i.e. on the desktop) or on the client side (on the mobile devices. )