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Phonedeck pushes out web 'n' mobe app for Android

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Phonedeck's promises to integrate an Android phone with a desktop computer though PIM synchronisation could yet prove its downfall.

The service launches today, with an Android application and an HTML5 control panel. The application enables the control panel to make and answer calls (on the mobile) as well as manage SMS messages and (of course) share all those activities on Facebook at the touch of a mouse. It's an impressive demonstration of desktop and mobile integration via the ubiquitous cloud. The only problem is that most people sitting at a desk aren't making calls on a mobile.

Once it is installed on both platforms, incoming calls flash up on the bottom right of the desktop screen (even if the browser isn't loaded, thanks to a Chrome extension) and can be answered with a click of the mouse (assuming the wireless mouse hasn't gone crazy thanks to interference generated by the handset). If one is using a Bluetooth headset the experience is very smooth, otherwise it's slightly odd.

Once you've started or answered a call, the contact history pops up, including text messages and calls as well as LinkedIn/Facebook/Twitter updates, but there's nowhere to jot down your thoughts about the conversation, though a notebook is apparently in the pipeline.

Also in the pipeline is support for iOS, along with Windows Phone, but those platforms both prevent applications from intercepting incoming calls (necessary for cloud notification).

Anyone who has used a properly integrated phone system knows how effective they can be: with the caller's details popping up on the screen and the contact history there for context, it can make the most absent-minded of us appear coherent ... when it works. Phonedeck comes close to providing just that.

The Berlin-based company is pretty small – 15 people spending €1m in seed capital to get this far – with a view to raising some proper finance after the launch. The plan is to go freemium, charging for integration with Salesforce and its ilk while keeping the basic consumer services free. It's a risky plan, but better than relying on advertising or just building up customer numbers in the hope of being acquired before anyone notices the lack of revenue.

The problem is that, in the UK at least, most of us reach for a desk phone when making a call. Mobile calls are usually more expensive, and even when they're not the habit is hard to break. Synchronised address books already enable one-click dialling, using Skype or similar, so the value add of Phonedeck is harder to pin down. ®

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