Libox is designed to handle high-definition video and audio files, and Pilosof says the software can handle all major digital media formats, along with many that are less well-known. Although the basic service is free, the company plans to make money by making revenue sharing deals with content providers interested in using its technology to deliver content to users and to provide extra services, such as backup plans.
Libox isn’t the only company thinking about syncing content across devices. Apple offers MobileMe, which helps users sync content across a variety of Apple products. And at its recent developer conference, Google previewed technology that will allow users to stream music from a desktop computer to an Android phone.
Most users are familiar with syncing one device, such as an iPod or iPhone, to a desktop computer, says Michael Cote, an analyst with the research firm RedMonk. But Cote adds that Google and other companies could bring about a broader way of syncing content–one that allows users to store media easily on multiple devices.
But Libox may face legal problems if the entertainment industry takes exception to the way it could allow sharing of copyrighted material. The music industry has historically been suspicious of services that let consumers share music files, and Sonal Gandhi, an analyst with Forrester Research who covers media and entertainment, says that record labels have sometimes issued legal challenges to such services.
Other experts expect that consumers will have a lot of need for services that help them organize and access their data no matter where they are. “It’ll be a multiple-device world for a very long time,” says Kevin Burden, head of ABI Research’s mobile-devices group. But Burden foresees an even more serious potential roadblock than the music industry: the likely end of unlimited data plans for mobile devices. “This is going to get people thinking long and hard about what they pull down over the air,” Burden says, and this could make syncing services like Libox less useful.