I mentioned in yesterday’s iPhone 3G announcement that Apple had secretly purchased the domain me.com for an undisclosed sum of money (in the neighborhood of 11 million). It came as no surprise to Apple fans when we found out that MobileMe was the replacement for .Mac. Users had griped for years about .Mac’s lackluster performance and puny space available (1GB for $99/year last I used it).
So, other than the new domain name (personally, I liked the .Mac domain), how’s the new service different?
- More space: 20GB for the same price ($99/year for individuals and $149/year for a family pack). Additional space is $49/year for another 20GB or $99/year for another 40GB.
- Push… everything: Apple has upgraded their .Mac email service and calendar and contact syncing to “push” technology. I don’t really see what’s different here when I compare it to .Mac, except the syncing is seamless and faster. And oh, now it works with PCs/Exchange as well.
- Great web interface: Apple outdid itself here. .Mac had a web interface as well, but it was slow and kludgy. The new web interface behaves like desktop applications and looks really, really nice. Not sure how fast it loads on regular broadband connections, but we’ll find out soon, won’t we?
That’s about it, really. The bulk of the effort went into the better, cross-platform syncing and the innovative, beautifully-designed web interface. The additional space was long overdue.
Existing .Mac members will be upgraded automatically to MobileMe, and their existing subscriptions will be transferred over to the new service when it becomes available on July 11.
What’s the draw to MobileMe? For me, it’s the Back to My Mac service, which was introduced alongside iChat Screen Sharing in Leopard. It wasn’t enough to get me back when .Mac was overpriced and underfeatured, but it may be enough now that MobileMe has more space and is better designed. For iPhone users, it’s the obvious integration and contact/calendar syncing between the phone and the computer(s).
In terms of web storage space, the 20GB isn’t really that big of a deal for me. There are PLENTY of companies out there that offer more space. ADrive, for example, offers 50GB for free, and they’ve worked reliably for the past several months that I’ve used them. Dropbox, although it offers less space for free, has incredibly nice integration between Macs and PCs, and lets me share files seamlessly from computer to computer, or with my friends.
What I have to wonder about is Gmail. Given the partnership between Apple and Google, I’d have hoped that Google products would be better integrated into MobileMe somehow. It seems they’ve still been left by the wayside. They work, but not quite. I still can’t sync my calendar appointments properly from Gmail to iCal, and still can’t sync my contacts properly from Addressbook to Gmail (unless I have an iPhone or iPod Touch). Even Gmail’s IMAP interface in Mail leaves a lot to be desired. After using it for a few months, I switched back to POP3.
That’s annoying. I suppose it may have had something to do with Apple’s desire to keep building on their existing products and to develop an Apple-designed web interface (which is quite different from the spartan design of Google’s products).