Smart Phone Features for Un-Smart Devices

There’s been lots of buzz lately about video on mobile phones. A few days ago, Orb Networks of Emeryville, CA announced its free MyCasting service, which lets subscribers watch Internet video content on smart phones as well as PCs.

But how about software that lets you make a music video from your mobile phone? That’s one of the features of Mobile Action’s Handset Manager, a software package that lets you share data between mobile phones and PCs.

The company has its origin in a much less sexy problem than making videos on your phone.

“With mobile phones, all your phonebook information is on the phone,” explains Mobile Action Brand Manager Fitzwilliam Yang. “If you lose the phone, it’s gone. For business people, if you lose contact information, you lose business.”

Based in Taiwan, Mobile Action has been in business since 1999 and has about 125 employees worldwide. The privately held company sold 20 million copies of Handset Manager in 2005, posting $25 million in revenue. “We are number one in the world in terms of users, partners, revenues, number of phones supported, number of countries,” says Yang.

Mobile Action has a significant presence in Europe, where its software is often pre-packaged with mobile phones. However, the strategy that was a winner for the company in Europe did not catch on with North American carriers, Yang says. “They want people to buy their services.”

So now the company is reaching out to North American consumers directly through major electronics retailers in addition to selling directly from its website. Last week the company added Radio Shack to its roster of distributors, which includes Frys and Best Buy.

Handset Manager offers an alternative to smart phones and PDAs that brings many of the capabilities of those devices to ordinary phones. And you can demo many of these features on the company’s website.

In addition to basic contact and calendar data sharing, it offers advanced features like synchronizing with Outlook and Outlook Express, a picture editor, an audio composer, and text and multimedia messages.

The newest version, which is clearly targeting a young audience, adds Photo Wizard for adding special effects to photos, Music Manager to turn your phone into an iPod, and an MP3 audio clipper and a video composer for creating MP3 ringtones and short films.

All users will appreciate the fact that Handset Manager makes synching up simple with a one-click connection between the phone and PC. The system supports connections via USB, Bluetooth, Infrared, and USM memory cards.

Further, everything you need — USB cable, rDA infrared dongle, USB Bluetooth dongle, USB memory card reader – comes in the box. Handset manager works with about 600 different mobile phones.

However, there is one catch and I found it out when I was about to download a trial version of Handset Manager. The software only runs on Windows. Sigh.