MojoPac and Moka5: The computers in your pocket

Two companies likely to get a lot of attention at DEMO when they announce this week are MojoPac and Moka5.First, an update on MojoPac, a Mountain View start-up that has created a way to essentially carry around your computer in your pocket, which we mentioned last week. We couldn’t say everything we wanted, because the company’s product was under wraps until DEMO started. We wrote vaguely about how lets you carry around your PC contents in a tiny storage device, and then access it on any PC you plug the device into.

We said MojoPac lets you run on a PC “any application” stored in a removable storage device, such as a USB drive, a micro drive (an iPod, for example) or flash drive. It also works with networked storage.

May sound similar to other products you’ve heard of. But MojoPac seems to push the envelope with its ambition. Here are a few more details garnered from a conversation with chief executive, Shan Appajodu. It was started in 2004, when he and few colleagues started thinking of a way to give people their computing powers (or mojo) anytime they wanted them. They decided to separate the computer hardware from the software for this product, and find away to put that entire software offering onto a storage device.

There are lots of other products that let you save almost any file on a storage device, for example Sandisk’s U3. However, most of these, including U3, are doing so with proprietary hardware and software. U3, for example, is asking application vendors to rewrite their applications to store them on U3’s platform, says Shan Appajodu. With MojoPac, that rewriting doesn’t need to happen.

With both MojoPac and U3, you have to install applications on your device before transferring data, to safeguard intellectual property.

Once you’ve made these installations, though, it takes two minutes to transfer data, via your iPod to any other PC. That means you can use the same iTunes music wherever you go. And if you install your Outlook and VPN solution, it becomes your virtual office — where you can check your email, for example.

Appajodu says he expects MojoPac to have good adoption in Asia, where people have fewer laptops, and rely on public computing facilities, such as cyber-kiosks.

Also of note is that MojoPac distinguishes between the operating system and processes (shown on task manager). It only talks with the operating system of a PC. That way it can stave off some computer viruses, said Appajodu.

MojoPac will be worth checking out.

moka5.gifThen there is moka5, a Redwood City company backed with about $3 million from big-name venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, which is releasing LivePC, a product that is apparently doing much the same thing.

This is a Stanford group. The team leader is Monica Lam, Professor of Computer Science, currently on leave, from Stanford, and who started virtualization research in 2001. More details will come later.

Finally, we note the still-secret San Jose-based startup, Calista, which has raised several million (exact amount undisclosed) dollars from a group led by venture firms Greylock Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners. That company will be late, but at least have the benefit of hindsight — and launch next year.