Huddle goes all Dropbox on users with new Sync service

There’s no doubt that synchronization has rapidly become one of the cloud’s killer apps, breeding smash hit startups like Dropbox as well as underscoring big services such as Apple’s iCloud. (s:AAPL)

Now collaboration outfit Huddle is launching its own spin on the idea, with Huddle Sync — a system that grants its users access to shared, synced folders and gives the data to them wherever they are.

The London-based company, which we highlighted last year as one of Europe’s 20 most exciting startups, already offers its users — spread across 100,000 businesses — access to a range of collaboration software. But now it’s adding a virtual folder option that means Huddle workers can keep all sorts of documents up to date and automatically synced between their computers, phones or tablets.

Yes, it’s partially a defensive move against Dropbox’s Teams product, which has been making inroads into lots of companies off the back of the tool’s popularity with consumers. And it’s also a way of heading off threats from bigger players too, including the perennially-rumored Google Drive.

But it’s also taking on a different approach to the issue of synchronization because of its focus on business customers, as CEO Alastair Mitchell explained to me over breakfast last week.

He suggests that there is a significant difference between consumer-style sync — which is largely about accessing one person’s files across different devices — and enterprise-wide sync — which largely revolves around accessing other people’s information. And because enterprise-wide sync is essentially a shared drive that spans an entire organization, there’s a rather large technical problem to surmount: with terabytes of files potentially at your fingertips, how can you sync the whole thing?

The reality is that it’s not only impossible to sync everything, it’s also unnecessary.

Rather than simply pull the data down from the cloud whenever you need it, Huddle Sync runs a smart learning algorithm to find out which files you are most likely to be interested in and then it pushes them to you — saving you time, energy and preventing a company’s network from getting munged by vast amounts of constant synchronization.

Mitchell believes that the process is unique — it has filed for a patent on the algorithm — and over time hopes it can improve to become an utterly failsafe predictor of not only what you’re working on, but what you might need to work on in the future. Interesting move from the fast-growing startup, which also became one of the British government’s approved cloud software providers this week.