Stellar startups: In the club

Only one Israei company has made the cut into the iPhone App Store, and that is Pageonce, the first "Personal Internet Assistant."

iphone 88 298 (photo credit: Bloomberg)
iphone 88 298
(photo credit: Bloomberg)
Getting into the iPhone App Store is a big deal; not everyone is admitted. There are currently about 1,000 applications in the App Store - more than double the number offered when it first opened on July 11 - but Apple still intends to keep things under control, admitting only "quality" applications. It's not an easy club to get into - and so far, only one Israeli company has made the cut. Pageonce (http://www.pageonce.com/), billed as the first "Personal Internet Assistant," now has an iPhone/iTouch application, called iOnce - currently the only Israeli-developed application in the App store, the company says. Within 48 hours of its release in the App Store on July 17, iOnce was among the top five applications in the Productivity category, up there with Last.fm, Twitter and Paypal. Accolades are actually nothing new for Pageonce. The company, which does development in Kfar Saba and has an office in California as well, was recently selected as one of the 15 most promising companies by the California-Israel Chamber of Commerce (http://www.ca-israelchamber.org), an organization dedicated to helping promising Israeli start-ups get access to the resources and help available in the Silicon Valley. It utilizes its connections to get companies it works with in the front door with investors, the computer press and other key players who can help grow a company. Pageonce on the Web, and iOnce on the iPhone, aggregates all your account information for all sites you get date from or send information to on the Web. E-mail, social networks, airline miles, bank and credit card accounts. Basically, any information you access through individual log-in account pages can be accessed directly through Pageonce, with the same or better level of security as at each service's home site. Pageonce/iOnce users can currently log into thousands of Web services through the application, with more being added all the time. You access the sites with whatever connection method the iPhone is using - GPRS or Wifi - at the time. That kind of productivity is why the iOnce iPhone application has proven so popular, says Pageonce CEO Guy Goldstein. "Our iOnce application turns the iPhone into a true productivity tool," he says. "Many of the services you can access through iOnce don't even have an iPhone application of their own, so there is no way to get to them on the device. And for those that do have an application, iOnce provides a single, easy-to-use and organized interface for all your data." The convenience and ease of use is driving downloads for an application that does exactly what the majority of iPhone users want. "It turns out that financial data, saving money, and keeping track of accounts and miles are what most iPhone users are most interested in doing with their devices," says Pageonce founder and COO Ahikam Kaufman, citing polls by organizations that track iPhone use. More than 20 percent of users of those who have downloaded the app (the number should be well over 100,000 by the time this is printed) use iOnce every day; so far, they have connected to more than 3 million Web pages. And PageOnce/iOnce does more than just present data; it helps you manage it. "Let's say you have a bill coming up," Goldstein says. "The application can provide you with alerts in advance, reminding you to pay it on time and avoid late charges." You get all your e-mail from different accounts in one place, ensuring you don't miss important messages, even if a correspondent uses a "non-standard" address. If you want to, you can get notified every time account data changes, such as changes to your travel itinerary, eBay bid results and status, and Fedex or UPS package delivery updates. That's information you often need in an instant, but would take you 15 minutes or more to access from your PC - or forever from a mobile device. Of course, security is a major issue for an application like this, but Goldstein and Kaufman have that covered, too. Pageonce employs military-level security and is certified by TRUSTe, McAfee Hacker Safe and VeriSign. Users can actually increase their Internet and mobile security by assigning different user names and passwords to each of their accounts and simply managing them all directly from the application. What if you lose your phone? No worries (other than getting a replacement!); the device itself does not contain any personal data, and you can easily disable remote log-ins from your iPhone. or even destroy your Pageonce account by logging into the site on a PC. The buzz about Pageonce on the Web has been very positive - and don't forget, the App Store isn't a club just anyone can join. "We are very excited to be part of the Apple App Store and to offer our service in a mobile capacity to the millions of consumers who use the iPhone and iPod touch on a daily basis," Goldstein says. And given the exclusivity of the club, you know he means it. [email protected]