MobileMe and the Future of the Apple Cloud

Mobile Me.png


I wrote about MobileMe back when it was just a rumor. Now that Apple has lifted the veil, I thought I'd take a moment to share my thoughts about the actual product.

Push Technology? Thank You Very Much!


This feature makes my life easier. Requiring me to cable sync my iPhone to get calendar and contact data is frustrating. Add to this the fact that I use two different Macs and the resulting increased likelihood of a sync meltdown and you can see why I am very ready for this feature. That being said, I'm pretty hip to these technologies and, frankly, I've expected at least this much functionality for some time. For a lot of people this will be revolutionary. Regardless, it is essential.

Web Applications


The ability to have your calendar, contacts, and email at any computer in a familiar interface is fantastic. I think it is intriguing how different the approaches are between Apple and Google. I will probably catch flak for this but I find the screenshots of the Apple Web applications more appealing than Google's. That probably arises from familiarity but I also think Apple spends more time on design. I'm not sure how useful picture syncing will be and I'll address the iDisk below.

Windows Love


There are a lot of iPhone users out there that do not own Macs. There are also a lot of Mac Users that sit behind a windows box at work. This is a necessary and welcome addition. I also wouldn't be surprised that, if properly implemented, MobileMe acts as a sort of gateway drug for pulling switchers over to Apple.

iDisk


The bump to 20 gigs is excellent. I also like the ability to share large files easily. The web interface for the iDisk, however, does not do much for me. As a SugarSync subscriber and general syncing nerd, I just feel they could take this further. I get that I can do syncing with an iDisk but it is slow and only works on the local copy of the iDisk. Furthermore, the local copy is a sparse image and not easily searchable or replaceable. The SugarSync solution, which goes and syncs your files from their native locations on your drive is much more elegent. For instance. I keep my Bento database synced using SugarSync. It is automatic. I don't have to think about it. Doing this through the iDisk requires several steps where I would have to drag the database to the iDisk on the computer I'm leaving and drag it off the iDisk on the computer I'm about to work on. If I forget, then I will end up with two different sets of data. Ugg. Likewise, why can't we access the files on the iDisk from our iPhones? If it can open a Keynote file as an email attachment why not directly from iPhone iDisk access? Put simply, I think the iDisk could be much more.

slow sign.jpg


Server Capacity - Can Apple Keep Up?


My biggest gripe with .Mac is its speed, or lack thereof. This thing is slow. As a totally non-scientific example, sending a 300mb file up over my home network (cable modem) took me 50 minutes last night. Is the capacity of an already slow system being increased to handle millions of "push" transactions? I guess we'll find out in early July.

Name Suckage


Apple is getting slammed for the name "Mobile Me." I think this is based on a variety of issues ranging from the affiliation to the dreadful Windows Me to people who are generally unhappy when Apple takes the "Mac" out of anything. Trying to seperate myself from the "geek", I can see the name Mobile Me being pretty effective with a general consumer who really doesn't understand cloud based computing and enterprises but knows what a pain it is to remember what time the dentist appointment is when you are in your car and left the details on your computer at home. So I really am not griping about the name.

Additional Functionality


I'm actually pleased with promise that MobileMe provides. The push technology alone will be of tremendous benefit to me. I'm hoping, however, that this is only the begininng. I don't know about you, but I always got the impression the .Mac service was the ugly step sister at Apple. It occaisionally got lip service but it never really got that special attention that Apple generally brings to its products. I'm hoping that changes with MobileMe. I'd love to see it take on more aggressive file syncing like the SugarSync service. I'd also like to see it serve up video and music so I could park gigabytes of music on video on the MobileMe server and then listen to them from my 3g iPhone. I think we are all headed toward cloud computing and this is probably just another small step in the long march. If Apple gets aggressive with this, it would serve them (and us consumers) well.