End of An Era: AvantGo Shutting Down

AvantGo screenshot and shutdown notice

AvantGo was a pioneer in bringing the web to mobile devices. It started out in 1997 as a offline browser for Palm and Windows Mobile. Back in the day I used it extensively to keep my Handspring Visor filled with the latest web content for reading on my long commute on the train. The drill with AvantGo was, first go to AvantGo.com, login and search for the “channels” you wanted to read on your PDA. There were hundreds of channels representing most of the major online publishers around the world. AvantGo provided a desktop PC client that talked to the AvantGo web service and pulled down the latest content from your subscribed channels. Every time you synchronized your device it got loaded up with fresh content. It was revolutionary at the time before GPRS and WAP.

I used AvantGo for quite awhile but eventually became frustrated with its limitations. There was a hard cap on the amount of content that you could download through AvantGo and the channels had a tendecy to break and stop updating after awhile. I eventually moved on to Plucker, an open source project that basically did the same thing as AvantGo but without caps or the need for a web service.

AvantGo was one of the high fliers in the great Internet boom of the late 90’s. It hit 10 million users and went public in 2000 at the height of the boom with a successful IPO. Shortly afterwards the bubble burst, AvantGo hit hard times and was eventually acquired by Sybase in 2002. The company was slow to adapt to the death of the PDA and the rise of browsing on mobile phones. They did eventully offer a mobile web version of the service but it retained the subscribed channel concept and the data caps.

This week, AvantGo announced that it was shutting down the service June 30th and repositioning itself as an “SMS advertising and content delivery system.” For those of you who are still using the service, AvantGo recomends Snac, a similar channel based product that offers clients for BlackBerry, Java and Windows Mobile Phones. Snac doesn’t support Palm or Pocket PC devices and looks like it synchronizes over the air rather than via the desktop. If you are looking for a sideloading alternative or have a Palm or Pocket PC, Plucker is still available and the open Plucker document format is alive and well with desktop clients forMicrosoft Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. The Plucker device client is Palm OS only but the Plucker format is supported by the Vade Mecum reader on Pocket PCs and by FBReader for Linux handhelds including Nokia Maemo tablets, Zaurus, Archos, Simpad, PepperPad, iRex iLiad and Motorola Linux based phones like the A1200. Source: CodeBudo

11 thoughts on “End of An Era: AvantGo Shutting Down

  1. Pingback: The mobiThinking interview: Ilicco Elia, Reuters Mobile | mobiForge

  2. I also will miss the service, just got my Clie os5 working again and in trying to upload, found out AvantGo is gone, will try Plucker
  3. Today I wanted to load AvantGo to my Smartphone Nokia E71 for offline content, including news, medical help and wines info I always want to carry. I used AvantGO a lot on my phased out palms.
    I am quite sad to learn they shutdown, but also amazed at how they let this happen.Just the brand name was valuable on its own, and I am sure they could monetise the access and some of the info. Certainly the need for the service has reduce tremendously, but has not died! And properly managed, it was easily continued into new -almost always connected- platforms.
  4. AvantGo will be greatly missed, mostly because there are no real alternatives out there.
    Neither Plucker nor Snac does it, as they still need the PC as middle man, where AG could be synced via WiFi directly to my PPC, without having to wait for the PC to boot up.
    RSS feeds really su*** for news reading, as they only sync the headlines, and I'll need a good connection to get the storries, and wait for them to load, and on top of that most RSS feeds links to the standard sites, not the mobile friendly sites.
  5. Plucker works great. Install the app onto your palm and get a desktop client. I use Sunrise Desktop to download the Economist once a week and it's near-flawless: you can even enable full-resolution pictures.
  6. What a shame - I'm still using AvantGo excessively on my m505 as it offers (or better will have offered) perfect diversion (..in contrast to other "over the air" content-services free of charge) while on train, at the doctors or in the bathroom :-). Thanks for the hint though - I'll see what Plucker can do for me.

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