Jolicloud evolves again with ‘personal cloud’ search

Updated: French startup Jolicloud has spent the last few trying to do some ambitious things with cloud-based services — producing a cloud-powered computer, a cloud-focused operating system and a cloud-enabled desktop. But despite plaudits from many of those who live their life on the go, it has struggled to get mainstream traction with any of them.
The company is hoping all that changes today, with the public launch of another product, Jolicloud Me, that it hopes can finally get the sort of broad use it’s been chasing.
The idea behind the service, which was announced it was opening up today at the London Web Summit, is that it can be a central repository for all the material you store and share online — effectively becoming your filesystem for the web.
Users log in, link up to accounts at Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere, and the service goes to grab all the photos, videos and files that you have shown interest in. The master list is stored inside Jolicloud, allowing you to rapidly find material you’re looking for — wherever you happened to put it. That could be a great idea for those whose lives are stretched across several different services that have significant overlap.
It’s actually pretty simple to use, and seems to be well-designed to pull together your data with speed. On logging in for the first time I authorized Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Flickr (s:YHOO) and within a minute or so it had built a library of nearly 3,000 items. There’s plenty of room for expansion (it currently support Picasa (s:GOOG) too, but not much else) and the interface is easy to navigate and search.

In doing all of this, Jolicloud is taking elements from a range of different cloud-based services — iCloud, Evernote, Dropbox — and even some of the juice from bookmarking and favoriting services such as Pinterest at one end or Stellar at the other. Monetization right now seems to be missing, but it’s easy to imagine people paying for a service that effectively backs up everything they do on the web, across different platforms.
While Jolicloud Me doesn’t replace the other products that the company has worked on, I get the feeling that this could be a breakthrough of sorts for the business.
Co-founder and CEO Tariq Krim has a good track record in spotting interesting technologies that are pushing towards the mainstream, but he has always struggled to turn those into mass-market consumer plays. Take, for instance, Netvibes, the widget and RSS dashboard service he built that tapped into some interesting trends but ended up being sold.
Since being funded three years ago with more than $4 million from Atomico (Niklas Zennström) and Mangrove Capital, the business has spent most of its time building products that get usurped by Google (the Jolibook/Chromebook, for example) or, frankly, that nobody seems to have really wanted.
Will this be the moment when it pays off?
Update: I mistakenly used the word backup in the headline — implying that Jolicloud Me actually makes a backup copy of your items on the web. This isn’t the case: it’s effectively a search engine for content that exists online.