SyncML is an Extensible Markup Language (XML) protocol under development as an open standard for the universal synchronization of data between devices, one of the most important building blocks in the development of third generation (3G) wireless. The SyncML Initiative was founded in February of 2000, with a stated goal of developing and promoting an open and portable standard for consistent synchronization of remote data across networks, platforms, and devices. SyncML leverages existing standards such as MIME, the vCard, and the iCalendar, in addition to XML.
Synchronization of data allows changes made to data on one device (such as a smartphone or a laptop computer) to be instantly reflected in data on another device (such as a networked computer). For example, if a file is edited on one device, the updates can be automatically transfered to the other device. With automatic data synchronization, a mobile worker doesn't have to worry about the coordination of data between networked computers and devices used while out of the office. This lessens the need for sneakernet operations; the user doesn't have to recopy data, manually transfer it from one device to another, or deal with uncoordinated information in various versions of single files. The problem with existing data synchronization protocols is that they are only compatible with some standards and some devices. Meanwhile, with a growing number of people using wireless devices, the need to synchronize data will only increase. Given the variety of hardware and technology, a universal standard is necessary for future development of the wireless industry, which has been held back by the existing proprietary technologies.
Founders of the initiative (Ericsson, IBM, Lotus, Motorola, Nokia, Psion, Palm Inc. and Starfish Software) showcased devices using the protocol in September 2000 in Dublin. Initiative members report that SyncML-compliant products may be released by early 2001. SyncML Version 1.0 Alpha is currently available to the more than 470 supporting companies.