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fusionone_logo.jpgIf you’ve lost a phone, then you know this pain. All of the contacts, photos, and applications on that phone are gone too. Trying to get a carrier to restore applications to a replacement phone isn’t easy.

That’s where FusionOne comes in with MightyBackup. The San Jose, Calif., company has been doing backup services for contacts on mobile phones for a decade. Now it can also restore licensed applications, camera phone photos, and anything else that you’ve backed up on a phone as well, says Mike Mulica, CEO of FusionOne.

mikemulica.jpgThe company made the announcement at the CTIA mobile show in Las Vegas, where thousands of mobile industry followers are gathering this week. FusionOne has a customer among the carriers that will announce the MightyBackup service at a future date. The service only works now with CDMA phones that use Qualcomm’s Brew technology now. The service will work on other kinds of phones in the future. The first carrier will likely be up and running this summer.

FusionOne already has 15 carriers using its (roughly) $2 a month service for backing up contacts on phones so that they can be restored in case of a lost phone. There are five million active subscribers. It works on 1,000 different phones.

The service is one of the most popular applications on Verizon Wireless and it’s one of the reasons that FusionOne was able to raise $6 million in venture capital recently. (Mulica still hasn’t confirmed that). The company says it has backed up more than half a billion contacts so far.

Mulica says that the new business will allow someone to restore data to a different phone with the same carrier. But as the networks open up, I can see that the technology that FusionOne has will be much more useful.

mightybackup_premiumsmall.jpgFor instance, when Verizon Wireless opens up its network later this year, users will want to dial into its network with different phones from different cell phone carriers. They may want to upgrade phones, moving their contacts, licensed applications, music, ringtones, calendars, and camera phone photos from the phone on one carrier to a phone on another carrier.

Mulica is cagey about that. He says it’s up to the carriers to choose how they will use FusionOne’s technology. There is nothing blocking the carriers from being able to use FusionOne to do cross-platform transfers. But so far, no carriers are doing it. That’s part of the “walled garden” thinking that many carriers are clinging to, even as pressure comes to open up the networks from developments such as Google’s Android platform and the unlocked Apple iPhones that are being used on non-AT&T networks.

Mulica said FusionOne has worked on the newest backup technology for several years in close partnership with Qualcomm. He says this service will enable greater customer satisfaction and generate more revenue for carriers. Part of that comes from a monthly fee that consumers pay for the backup service. But another part comes because applications on lost phones sit idle and no longer generate carrier revenue. With easily restored applications, users can continue to use the apps and generate carrier revenue.
The licensed application migration could also motivate people to upgrade to new phones without worrying about what they leave behind. A FusionOne survey showed that 44 percent of mobile users delay upgrading because of this concern. Only 13 percent repurchase all of the content once they do upgrade.

“We’re attacking a revenue leakage problem,” Mulica said.

PC users have had this synchronization ability for a decade or more. Now mobile is finally catching up. Soon enough, interoperability will happen and liberate people from being locked into the same old phones and carriers. I said that. But Mulica thinks it’s inevitable too.

FusionOne was founded in 1998, with headquarters in San Jose and engineering in Tallinn, Estonia. Mulica, previously the CEO of mobile voice-over-Internet-protocol firm BridgePort Networks, joined a few months ago as CEO.

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