With technological advances come new frustrations. Before there were personal computers, there were no pull-your-hair-out computer crashes.

In the same way, today's cell phones offer such a wide array of services streaming video and music, wireless data exchange, etc. that for many consumers they've become an essential part of their life. And then they crash or are left at restaurants, dropped in toilets or thrown out of cars key information like phone numbers and photos are lost.

Now, it's Ravash Ram and Spartak Buniatyan to the rescue.

"Those valuable contacts and keepsakes can't be replaced," said Ram, the firm's director of business development. "That's what we provide."

The USC business school grads have founded Advanced Wireless Solutions and developed a device called a Backup-Pal, which essentially "backs up" information on cell phones.

It sounds simple, but Ram said it wasn't because of the large number of cell phone manufacturers and the seemingly endless bells and whistles they keep adding. Backup-Pal works on nearly all makes and models of cell phones. The small disc-shaped devices, which sell for $39.95 or $49.95, connect a cell phone to a personal computer, allowing the user to copy as much information as they wish.

For more on the Backup-Pal, go to http://backup-pal.com/home.asp.

Overrun by 'Pirates'
For Web sites like Fandango, the popular online nationwide movie ticket sales agent, some of the scariest words are "1.1 Server Too Busy Error."

That's the Internet equivalent of a busy signal, and it pops up when too many users try to connect to a Web site, all at the same time.

Fandango spokesman Harry Medved said the site approached the danger zone on July 9, driven by the opening of Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean 2." At one point, the Fandango service was selling as many as 10 tickets per second.

To combat that sort of overload, L.A.-based Fandango has teamed up with Pennsylvania-based PointRoll Inc. to streamline the online ticket buying process. The venture will provide movie studios, theaters and advertisers the ability to connect directly with Fandango for ticket purchases and target customers by zip code.

"Normally when you see an ad for a movie, it will direct you to a Web site," said Medved. "In this case, you do the research on the movie, watch the trailer and buy the ticket all in the same place." Medved said the system would simplify the ticket-buying process so that Fandango won't have to worry about overload. The system should be operational in about a month.

Sold on Games
Los Angeles-based AvatarLabs has found a niche for itself in Hollywood with its online "rich ads."

In addition to the usual clips, music and information promoting feature films, the motion graphics studio offers video games for viewers to play while watching the ad. It's a growing trend in advertising think guiding a Big Mac through a herd of hungry hippos and it makes sense.

According to Nielsen Entertainment, in 2003 the coveted 18- to 34-year-old male demographic spent more time playing video games than watching prime time television a staggering 30 billion hours worth of playing time.

The Boston-based research firm Yankee Group estimates that $118 million was spent on advertising with video games in 2004 and that figure is expected to top $800 million by 2009. These figures include both video games developed specifically for a product and product placement in established video games.

AvatarLabs founder Rex Cook was honored by the Directors Guild of America, which gave him the 2006 Interactive Movie Advertising Creative Showcase Award for creative excellence. Upcoming features using the AvatarLabs ads include "Miami Vice," "The Ant Bully" and "My Super Ex-Girlfriend."

Cecil B2B DeMille?
Employee newsletters ain't what they used to be, and L.A.-based Interactive Video Technologies is one of the firms responsible for that.

The firm, which creates business Webcasts for employees, partners and customers, has received a $5 million infusion of capital from Monitor Ventures. Founder Greg Pulier says the company will use the influx of cash to amp up its marketing and development efforts."Our tech is really the most feature-rich, most advanced technology out there," Pulier said, "and we want to keep it that way."

Microsoft Eyes Small Business
Microsoft Corp. has announced it will introduce a Web-based version of its sales and marketing software in 2007 as it targets rivals like Salesforce.com, Oracle Corp., and SAP AG in a fast-growing market.

Rob Bois, an analyst at AMR Research, said the upcoming service would give Microsoft a foothold in a burgeoning part of the estimated $11 billion market for so-called customer relationship management, or CRM, software that helps companies manage sales forces and track sales leads. Microsoft said the service initially would target small businesses.

The new offering also is part of a larger Microsoft push into Web services marked by its strategy to take on Google and Yahoo. Both Oracle and SAP already offer their own versions of Web-based CRM business applications.

Staff reporter Dan Cox can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 230, or at dcox@labusinessjournal.com .

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