Sync Your Gmail Contacts, Calendar With iPhone & Windows Mobile

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Last August, I upgraded from a simple flip phone to a HTC Touch. Immediately I began looking for a way to avoid manually entering my Gmail contacts into the phone.

After several hours of fruitless searching, I stumbled on NuevaSync–a free service that sync’d both my Gmail contacts and my Google Calendar.  Thankfully, they also support Google Apps accounts.

When I got an iPod Touch, I started three-way syncing my contacts and calendar across three platforms: Windows Mobile, iPhone, and the cloud.

As a user, this free service is a dream. I only think about it when I need to change a setting–otherwise everything is seamlessly behind the scenes. And they keep improving. They just announced iPhone multiple calendar support, and expect to break 100,000 users sometime this week.

NuevaSync maintains a low profile–they don’t charge, they don’t advertise, their website is spartan, and yet they’re hiring full-time staff.

So I e-mailed David Boreham, their CEO, with a few questions:

Why do people use the service?

A common story is a husband and wife team who want to share a calendar. One of the pair will typically begin using the service first then ask us if their spouse can share a calendar. We have doctors using the service we well as lawyers, scientists, students and even a few venture capitalists. After fixing a number of user-reported timezone bugs we know that we have users in all parts of the world (including Easter Island). We don’t really track specific companies using the service but we know from support traffic that it’s common for several people in the same organization to use the service together, with shared calendars.

How long have you been around, and what’s the roadmap for the future?

Nuevasync began public service in September 2007. Originally the service was deployed as a vehicle for testing our sync protocol implementation. Google calendar was chosen as the first data source somewhat at random, based on the availability of an API and reasonable terms of service for its use. Over time, and particularly after the release of the iPhone 2.0 in July 2008 users selected the service as a way to sync Google contacts and calendar with their phones. Nuevasync adapted to the influx of new users, deploying more servers and moving our operations to a highly reliable data center in the South Bay.

We just released support for multiple colored calendars on the iPhone and iPod touch. Also the ability to select which Google calendars sync to the device, and sync for read-only calendars (holidays, sports team calendars etc). The next big feature planned is support for e-mail push sync. Longer term you can expect us to add support for more data sources (e.g. CalDAV, other public PIM services besides Google).

How many users do you have–and what devices are they using?

We have 95313 registered users and around 800 new users per day. Device breakdown is as follows:

iPhone : 75%
iPod Touch : 16%
Windows Mobile : 7%
Noika : 1%
Other (Palm, Blackberry, PocketPC2003) : 1%

How many people are using Google Apps?

I don’t have exact numbers for Google Apps users, but based on an analysis of users’ e-mail addresses it’s a roughly 80:20 split.

Given your low profile, how do users find NuevaSync?

We don’t have good data on this but based on the timing of our big new user spikes we think that many users find articles about our service when performing an online search. In the beginning we undertook a primitive form of SEO where we’d try Google searches along the lines of what we’d expect a prospective user to do (e.g. ‘sync google calendar windows mobile’ — this was long before the iPhone). Then in the search results we’d look for any pages that had editable content (typically blog posts or forums), and we’d add a comment to the page pointing out our service as a possible solution to the problem being discussed. The current set of articles and forum posts grew from this initial seeding effort and the early adopters that generated.
We also know from user feedback that they often recommend the service to friends and colleagues.

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