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Splashtop, a different take on remote access technology

Splashtop is offering a dizzying array of products that explore every possible use of technology that captures the user interface on one device and routes it to another. The possibilities are interesting. Wading through the product list is not.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor

Splashtop LogoCliff Miller, President, Asia Pacific and Chief Marketing Officer of Splashtop, introduced his company's approach to access virtualization. The company has developed some very interesting technology that makes it possible to capture the display and input of a Windows or Mac OS-based PC and then stream it out to number of different types of devices.

Here's the long list of products the company currently offers:

  • Splashtop Streamer - this software captures the user interface and user input functions of a Windows or MacOS-based PC. A computer with the Splashtop Streamer can receive connections from any device running Splashtop Remote Desktop, Splashtop Remote Browser, Splashtop Whiteboard, Splashtop CamCam, Splashtop XDisplay, Splashtop Touchpad or Engine Connect. The secret sauce is new technology that quickly and efficiently captures and then delivers desktop content.
  • Splashtop Remote Desktop -this client software connects to Splashtop Streamer from a Windows, Mac, tablet or Smartphone and makes it possible to access the applications and data residing on the host system. This means that the remote systems can display all of the content types that the host system supports. So Flash videos can be viewed on an iPhone or iPad even though flash is not supported on those devices.
  • Splashtop Remote Browser -this client software is designed to be installed on an iPad and it links to the IOS internet browser. Once installed, the user is able to link to the browser on the host PC and access the internet from there. As with Splashtop Remote Desktop, the user is able to review any content the host PC or Mac is able to view regardless of whether the host PC or MC is using Internet Explorer, FireFox or Chrome.
  • Splashtop Whiteboard -this client software targets educational environments. Instructors or presenters can share what they're doing on an iPad with an entire classroom. The instructor can use the iPad like a whiteboard and present slides, pictures, or drawings.
  • Splashtop CamCam - this client software makes it possible for a remote device (iPhone, iPad Touch, iPad) to view images captured by a camera attached to the host PC or Mac. This certainly could help travelers' piece of mind. It would be possible for them to see how kitty or puppy is doing.
  • Splashtop XDisplay - this client software makes it possible for an iPad to be used like a second monitor to display what is on the screen of a host PC or Mac. This mobile secondary monitor could be used in a number of interesting ways.
  • Splashtop Touchpad - this client software makes it possible for the touch screen on an iPad or iPhone to control the functions of the host PC or Mac.
  • Engine Connect - this client software is meant to make it possible for on-screen talent to control a broadcaster's Vizrt display system.
  • Splashtop OS - yet another way to connect the browser on a remote device to the host PC or Mac. It isn't really clear to me what this does or why a customer would find it useful.
  • Splashtop Connect - still another way to connect the browser on a remote device to the host PC or Mac. As with Splashtop OS, it isn't really clear to me what this does or why a customer would find it useful.

Snapshot analysis

Splashtop is offering a bewildering array of products that is difficult to comprehend. After a bit of study, however, it is clear that the company has come up with a number of ways to sell the basic capability of capturing the display and input of a computer and delivery it elsewhere over the network.

The company has segmented all of the different ways that people might use the ability to capture display and input of the remote client system and route it to a host PC or Mac. The company has also segmented all of the ways that people might wish to use the ability to capture the display and input of the host PC or Mac and then route it to a remote device. For the most part, the company is overly focused on iPhones and iPads even though Android is coming on strong in both the Smartphone and Tablet categories.

If anything, I think that they've stretched the concept way too thin. It appears that the packaging folks stayed up all day and night for several weeks to come up with every possible way the base technology could be used. Rather than take a breath and stop to think about how customers are likely to want to acquire these base capabilities, the product planners than went on to create a product after product to sell every possible individual use of the base technology.  When I was part of product management at Digital Equipment Corporation years ago, the team would not have been allowed to do this.  It would have segmented the potential user base too far and made the product far to hard to understand and use.

It appears that it would have been far better to offer three products - the server that makes the routing of display and user input possible, software that supports all of the client use cases and software that supports all of the host PC or Mac use cases. Three part numbers and three prices would be far easier to understand.

In the end, it is far to difficult to navigate through the product list to discover what, if anything, is useful for a customer. Most customers, I fear, would simply go elsewhere rather than figure everything out.

Splashtop, you need to revisit your product packaging strategy. What you're offering now isn't really helping you.

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