Apple's MobileMe

More than once recently I have been asked my opinion of Apple’s MobileMe service, so I finally decided to write my thoughts down and make them public. Please remember that your millage may vary.mobileme

First a bit of history. I have been using the service for a little over three years since back in the good old .Mac days.  The main reason I signed up originally was not for the email or web service, but for the synchronization. I really liked it because I could enable it on multiple machines and then have my bookmarks, accounts, and contacts synchronized between the various machines. Additionally, I could use iDisk to have a file area that I could access from those machines at different locations and that was also backed up “to-the-cloud.”

Fast forward a few years and we are at the MobileMe era.  One of the main changes for me though is that I know use Firefox as my main brower and with that I use FoxMarks to keep my bookmarks in sych between not only various Macs but also Windows machines. I also use GMail as my main email, so I access that from anywhere and don’t need to synch it between various machines. My contacts are still and issue, and MobileMe does keep them in synch, so that is good, but I rarely use iDisk any more. For files I either keep them on a USB memory key I keep with me or just stick them up in a temporary storage area on my website. For the few documents or spreadsheets I like to have available, I use Google Docs. Again, it means they are available anywhere and I don’t have to synch. Nothing like having your travel schedule and agenda up on line and being able to share it if you want!

As for calendaring, most of my calendar is kept on our corporate Exchange server so that is a totally seperate thing. I have been trying to decide where I will keep my calendar if I leave my current work situation, and most probably it will be Google Calendar. The nice thing about both MobileMe’s calendar and Google’s calendar, is that they can be published and shared with other people. My bias is that Google’s method is easier and more direct, but I think that is just because it was designed from the ground up as a web based public-enabled calendar.

Now, the iPhone does add a wrinkle to this and it makes me look at MobleMe again.  Email works great between GMail and the iPhone, but unfortunately neither calendar or contacts sync over the air.  The alternative is to sync the Google Cal and Contacts to the physical computer and then sync that to the iPhone manually. This is probably fine for most people. There is also a good mobile / iPhone interface for the Google calendar, so that makes things even easier.

The real deal stopper for me for complete conversion to the Google word is contacts. Simply put, Google doesn’t store them well – ie, just a “name” not first name and last name. And no details. So for mailing lists, mail merge, business use, etc… you really need to use a different app. Anybody who need anything approaching CRM or a client database has to, absolutely has to, use something else.

Now, I don’t know whether you use a Mac or a PC.  My main machines are Macs, but I use both. I use them both extensively. Some of this really does depend on your platform of choice though. A MobileMe account is much more useful for a Mac person that someone who uses Windows.

Finally, I don’t use the web galleries and publishing much on MobileMe. I have done it a couple of times just to try it out and see how it works and gain experience, but I have a websites with WordPress and galleries and such so I just don’t have the need. And I have tons of space there, so the amount of space MobileMe offers me is not that big a deal.

So, there you go. Lots of opinion and not much advice!  I hope this helps in some way, and if you have any questions – specific or general – I will be glad to try to answer.

My final thought is this, my account is up for renewal in two months. Will I renew?  I simply haven’t decided yet.  Sorry!