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IPhone App iTeleport Wants You to Get Excited About VNC

In app store terms, iTeleport is as old as it gets. In fact, it actually predates the app store, according to founder J Sherwani.

Today, iTeleport’s update will offer the product free for 30 days, and then switch to $3 a month thereafter or $25 for unlimited use.

So, why would a small, profitable company–Sherwani said there have been a total of about 700,000 devices on iTeleport in its two-plus years in existence–decide to give away its only product for free?

According to iTeleport, it’s the thing to do if you want to change how people think of VNC, or virtual network computing.

Essentially, that means you can use one computer to log in to and operate another.

And this two-man shop might not be alone in thinking there’s a future in bringing VNC-style computing to the masses.

Vishal Kapur, the other iTeleporter, said that he thinks there is an untapped consumer group out there for VNC, especially those using Apple’s iPad and iPhone, and that most users aren’t there yet because there haven’t been consumer-focused products built on the technology.

“They [VNCs] have been around for 25 years, but they have always been an enterprise thing,” Kapur said.

But moves by larger companies, such as the recent demo of OnLive’s new cloud gaming and computing system at the D: Dive Into Mobile conference, indicate that the iTeleport team may not be the only ones thinking the future lies in this direction.

In fact, Mobilized’s Ina Fried reported on enterprise software maker Wyse doing pretty much the same thing–taking its basic VNC app and making it free.

While freer access to a desktop’s files on the go might be great, the bigger question here is: What are the hurdles ahead now that it looks like we might have a race?

Sherwani sees a world where you can share a screen, folder or an online shopping experience with a friend just as fast as you can share a link today.

He thinks the biggest barrier to overcome is the narrative about what VNCs are good for, but admits there are technical limitations too.

Thus, he wants iTeleport to rethink what the VNC is and repackage the whole experience to make using your desktop through your iPhone “as good as, if not better than,” sitting in front of it.

Big ideas are important, but there are also some bandwidth realities to overcome.

Today, VNCs don’t include sound, and depending on your connection speed at both ends–your desktop and mobile device–there is enough lag to make modern games and HD video look like a flip book.

Also, many people turn their computers off (or close the lid) when they leave the house, which renders the VNC connection useless.

Sherwani concedes these are big issues today, but said that the first step is to let more people see what VNC can do, and to let them share stories of consumer VNC experiences.

With little app makers like iTeleport in the mix with businesses in totally different weight classes, the future of VNC, or maybe we could call it “mobile terminal computing,” is interesting, if a bit murky.

Will users either gravitate toward OnLive’s model of taking a tiny piece of a very big cloud, or will there be a more scaled model, where the OnLives and the iTeleports of the world exist together and users simply choose seamlessly between how much computing power and interactivity they require to fill a given need?

Since we aren’t in the heyday of the teleport yet, please accept this video interview with the iTeleport team as a substitute:


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