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Site Offers Apps To Go

Portableapps.com is a community site that offers versions of standard software that a person can take with them on a flash drive.

John Haller founded Portableapps.com for fun, but the New Yorker is now looking to make money by providing portable versions of open source and commercial software.

Launched in December, Portableapps.com is a community site in which Haller and other developers offer versions of standard software that a person can take with them on a flash drive, a storage device that uses flash memory and is small enough to attach to a keychain. The hardware runs off a PC's USB port.

The value of being able to take an application on the road is having access to your own settings while working on whatever data you bring with you. Haller, for example, released on Friday a to-go version for OpenOffice 2.0.2, the latest version of the open source office productivity suite. On Thursday, he released an update of a portable version of Mozilla Corp.'s Firefox browser, and plans to release in beta by Monday a portable version of GIMP, an open-source photo imaging application.

Since introducing Portableapps.com traffic has increased from 17,000 unique visitors a day to an average of about 70,000 on weekdays and 45,000 on weekends. Haller recently moved the site to a larger server hosted and managed by Rackspace Ltd., based in San Antonio. Despite the growth, however, the site remains unprofitable.

"Portableapps.com is still in its infancy," Haller, 32, said. "It's not making any money yet."

The consultant, who still has clients as a financial systems programmer, plans to turn that around by working with commercial software vendors and offering portable versions of their products on the site. Haller says he's working with a couple of vendors he can't name because of non-disclosure agreements.

"I would get a commission on any sales of their software," Haller said.

One commercial vendor that will be offering its product on the site is Siber Systems Inc., which makes password manager Roboform. A portable version of the application, which someone other than Haller is developing, will be available in a few weeks.

Haller also is working with yet-to-be-named hardware vendors to build a Portableapps.com sub-site that would feature the companies' products along with a suite of packaged to-go applications. Haller plans to launch the first site in July for a flash-drive vendor who's new to the market.

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