How's that for a headline, if you just came here from Google News? Let's break it down:
- Funambol is an open source software company. They specialize in software for synchronizing mobile devices, and claim they serve over 2 billion of them.
- Monetize is a verb form of making money. But it doesn't just mean making money for yourself. In technology it often refers to turning on some invention so it can make money for lots of people.
- Cloud. A cloud is a big hosting center. Your stuff no longer runs on a particular computer using a specific operating system. It's just in the system somewhere. It's in the cloud.
- Sync is short for synchronize. Synchronizing, in this case, means making two things the same. The file here is the same as the file there, and they're kept the same even after one side changes.
- Mobile is what Europeans call cell phones or cell-like devices. Funambol was originally Italian, but they're now based in Redwood City, Calif. I think there is an Olive Garden in Palo Alto.
- VOIP is an acronym, short for Voice Over Internet Protocol. Make a phone call using your Internet connection rather than a regular phone line and you're making a VOIP call.
Now, dear visitor, what does this mean to you?
Let's say you're traveling to Toronto or Taiwan. To avoid your carrier's hefty "gotcha" fees, you call home using a local number and an Internet connection through a service like PennyTalk. You're doing big business so you collect a lot of business cards, and put those contacts into your phone.
With Funambol software, you can now synchronize those contacts with a big system somewhere on the Internet, and share that synchronized file with co-workers, who may start calling those contacts before they even get home, before they have had time to deal with your competitor.
Or, when you're visiting grandma in India, you can take some pictures of her and share them immediately with the whole family back in Duluth, Georgia.
This is a valuable capability. Funambol hopes enough money is made from all this that its software can earn a chunk as well. You may never know Funambol is involved in this, or (if you use their myFunambol portal) you may indeed know their name.
It's a business model, and if you want another acronym it's SaaS, which stands for Software as a Service. You don't pay for the software, but what the software does.
By saving you money and making profitable new services possible, companies like Funambol keep their open source projects alive. You may not pay for that open source package directly, but you do pay for it, and they make money on it.
And that's what makes the world go around.