âThis is truly a new market we're trying to grow,â says Brendan Hodge, COO and one of the founders of BITSWW. âIt's part ASP (Application Service Provider), part online storage. It's a virtual computer you access over the internet, and it's aimed primarily at individual users. There isn't a market already out there for a product like this. So we're taking things steadily and working hard to grow it.â
Unlike ASPs offering MS Office and other proprietary software, PersonalWebtop features over sixty applications and 1Gig of online storage per account for the modest price of $29.95/month.
Because PersonalWebtop is powered by Linux and offers only Open Source applications, the account price only has to cover the network and support costs. That suits the founders just fine. They're not interested in creating proprietary software, but rather in providing a stable and secure desktop environment where users can access the same documents and applications whether they're at work, at home, or on the other side of the world.
âWe didn't just use Open Source software to save money,â Brendan explains. âIn a sense, this is a very open source project, scratching an itch that we'd all been talking about for several years. And the first thing we did to test our concept was bring a server online and start using it. I now use it for all my work - which is great because my home computer is six years old and runs OpenOffice slower than the Webtop does.â
Speed is a sore point with the founders. Depending on the user's internet connection (PersonalWebtop recommends only people with cable, DSL or better use the service) the interface sometimes responds like a computer that's a year or two behind the times. Nevertheless, PersonalWebtop's founders are confident that users will find the service far more convenient than carrying floppies, emailing files from home to work, and never leaving home without the laptop.