Best Buy Plans Web-Based Smartphone Backup, Syncing

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Minneapolis - Best Buy Mobile wants to make it easier for consumers to access and manage all of the contacts, messages and content stored on their smartphones.

On Oct. 12, the retailer will launch a free service that automatically backs up and synchronizes a smartphone's settings, contacts, text messages, calendar items, photos and videos to a personal Web-based account, making it easier to transfer such data to a new phone. From the Web browser on a PC's larger screen, users will manage and share their data more easily than they could from a smartphone's small screen, the company contended. Changes made to data on the phone will automatically sync with the user's Web account, and changes made to the data from any PC browser will sync to the phone, Best Buy added.

The service, called mIQ, includes 1GB of storage in the clouds. It will come standard with the purchase of any new smartphone using the BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Symbian S60 operating systems. Compatible devices include the BlackBerry 9700, Bold, and Tour, Nokia E71 and N97, HTC Pro 2, Samsung Omnia II and T-Mobile Dash 3G, the company said. Other smartphone users can also sign up for the free service at http://miqlive.com.

Although Microsoft, Nokia and Apple offer similar services for users of their smartphone platforms, mIQ operates across smartphone platforms, "is much more robust, and delivers a better user experience," a spokesman contended. Microsoft and Nokia don't charge for their services, but Apple does, Best Buy said.

For their part, carriers offer to back up a phone's contacts in the clouds, and some offer to backup additional content, but "contact backup is the most common," the spokesman added.

Best Buy Mobile is launching the service because with smartphones, "sometimes all the great features can be overwhelming," said Best Buy Mobile business development director Mark Mosiniak. As a result, he said, "customers have a hard time getting the most out of their devices."

With mIQ, a phone's contacts as well as contacts from Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook can be imported into a mIQ account, and users can add, edit or delete contacts via a PC, the company said. Changes are pushed automatically to the phone and backed up on the web. Likewise, mIQ automatically uploads text messages to an inbox in a personal mIQ account, where from any PC they can be read, forwarded or replied to. From a PC, users can also view all text messages and calls associated with a particular person in the phone's contact list.

Appointments and events also automatically upload to the clouds when entered on a phone, enabling editing or deletion via a PC.  Photos and videos automatically upload as soon as they are taken so they can be organizing and editing on a PC and sent through email or MMS and posted to social-networking sites. In addition, mIQ lets users automatically post pictures and videos to social-networking sites such as Facebook, Flickr, FriendFeed and Twitter directly from their smartphone.

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