What’s up with the eWallet Web Companion?

In a comment on the last post, someone asked what was up with the eWallet Web Companion. For those of you who don’t know, the web companion is a web based application that allows you to view your eWallet wallet files online. You can sync to it, just like to any other mobile device, and securely view your wallets from any computer with internet access and a web browser. We even have a page about it here.

If you want to learn more about the Web Companion, read on after the jump!

A Little History

Work on the Web Companion has been going on (on and off) for quite some time now. One of my goals as Product Manager is to give you secure access to your important information no matter where you are. I don’t want our customers hampered by what device they are carrying or what computer they are sitting in front of. To that end, I got us started working on the eWallet Web Companion. The eWallet Web Companion (or EWC as I typically refer to it,) runs on pretty much any browser, from your mobile device to a laptop to a Ninetendo Wii (yes, we tested it on the Wii :) ).

Shortly after the project got underway, the iPhone came out. At the time, native software wasn’t supported and Apple hadn’t confirmed plans to support native software, so the new goal became an EWC with full iPhone support. We started the Closed Beta with a group of iPhone users and got some great results. Before we could finish, however, the word came down from Apple that they would support native applications.

This changed a LOT for us. While we still felt that the EWC was important, we knew that we had to get a native version of eWallet for iPhone completed. As a result, our attention was refocused on that effort. By July of this year we had eWallet for iPhone done, and by September, we had sync in place. This significantly reduced the urgency for getting the EWC out there.

We also saw the EWC as a possible BlackBerry solution. Of course we ended up with a native BlackBerry version as well, which further reduced the urgency for completing the EWC.

So Now What…

As I said, the EWC was not dropped – simply bumped a couple steps down the “Get it done now!” ladder. We have someone working actively on it right now so we’re making good progress. There have been a number of minor improvements, and we have plans for some MAJOR updates in the neat future. We still have some challenges to overcome, however. To that end, I hope to get out the next Advisory Board assignment sometime this week, and that assignment will deal with those very challenges!

So keep watch! There is more to come!

10 thoughts on “What’s up with the eWallet Web Companion?

  1. Charles Knight

    Sounds interesting, my own problem is that the value proposition for all this single sign-on SaaS offering is getting diminished by the fact that there are going to be a whole raft of companies wanting their monthly fee.

    It’s seems that many of the offering for the Palm Pre are going to be SaaS but it gets a bit much if I’m going to be paying out for palm on-line desktop, documents to go online, ewallet on a subscription basis.

    Where there are natural complementary services, you guys should look at operating joint portals and increase the value proposition to the consumers.

    If not, I think most consumers will just “cheat” and use services like live mesh to sync across the web and to their machines (E-wallet works perfectly if you are interested to know).

    Best

    Charles Knight

  2. Marc Post author

    @Charles:

    Great feedback Charles. We are very aware of the problems you speak of. One thing we’ve already done is allowed eWallet to sync to pretty much ANYWHERE. Right now a user can sync to pretty much anywhere they like, including across the web. The key difference between this and the EWC is that we’re offering a tool that lets you access and edit your applications from an online portal.

    My philosophy on web apps is this – I see them as a companion to on-device applications, not a replacement. I know others disagree but in the end, when it comes to information and applications you REALLY care about – there is no substitute for an “always up” “always connected” on-device app. Having spent a week trying to function 100% wireless in San Francisco last week, I can assure you – the world is NOT ready for 100% wireless solutions.

    To that end, anything we do with eWallet Web Companion will be treated like an extension of the existing software feature set, rather than a distinct change from what we’re doing now.

    The key advantage is that it allows eWallet users to continue to access their data, even if they have a device we simply can’t afford to support or haven’t supported yet. Symbian is a great example – Symbian is one of the most broadly used operating systems out there but Symbian users don’t by software. Why? Who knows. It isn’t really important since we aren’t going to change that about the user base. Rather, we can at least ALLOW those eWallet users who happen to be carrying a Symbian phone to get to their important information. All you info, all the time. A pretty cool goal.

  3. Peter

    Sounds intriguing, but as you noted, you can sync eWallet anywhere. I guess the main advantage of a web app tied to my main wallet would be that if my PDA died or I left it behind, or … I could then access my data on the web. However, I think I’d be suffering from some withdrawal symptoms if I had to do without my PDA for that long. :)

    As for web apps – it just depends. Some really are designed to be mainly used while you’re in one location and those can be cool. A lot of the better ones have some basic offline functionality. It just depends on the app. While I generally like the idea of having my data always available, I can see a lot of benefits of having someone else maintain the infrastructure and worry about penetration testing. I know that I personally don’t have the knowledge to adequately secure any server I would put online so am quite glad to leave that to professionals.

    Sounds cool, though, so I’ll have to really start looking at it soon.

  4. Robin

    Marc

    Thanks for the whole post for me! I’ve been in circumstances where my laptop has died and I can’t get internet on my iphone, but I can use a 3rd parties PC.

    That’s meant typing in URL’s and paswords and that is error prone and long.

    This is therefore one app that I would be happy to pay a (modest!) fee.

    One request: could we have an auto-sync facility, using a either a scheduled sync time or an event trigger?

    Good luck and thanks for the info.

  5. Neil

    Thanks for the update – I was one of the early users/testers of EWC, and was/am really looking forward to its eventual arrival on the scene. In fact, I was cruising your site in search of any updates on web companion, when I happened upon this blog entry. Need it! make it happen!

  6. Brian

    I really like the benefits of cloud computing, but am very concerned about giving all my personal information to Ilium (or any other service). If their security is breached, I’m toast. The usual response of “90 days of free credit monitoring” isn’t going to cut it if all my personal information gets stolen. Before I commit to putting my data into the cloud, I want to know how secure is Ilium Software? For that matter, how secure is any company?

  7. Marc Post author

    @Brian: Those are valid concerns, Brian. In the end it really comes down to trust. But it isn’t just the cloud. It’s the same when you hand your credit card to the waitress and she leaves with it for 5-10 minutes. Or when you give the bank teller your account number. Or provide your personal information to someone over the phone. In the end, you have to determine what is required for you to have faith in a person, software, or company you are working with.

    Besides the 256-bit AES encryption that is always on your wallet, the best assurance I can offer about Ilium Software is that we’ve been at this for over 11 years now and we’ve been extremely successful. On top of that, major corporations have tied their names to ours, including HTC, Microsoft, and HP. These guys don’t go into these sorts of relationships lightly. What their partners do can have a significant impact on their success.

    Hopefully this will help a bit as you make your decisions about who to trust!

Comments are closed.