As most people now know, Apple released a full suite of online web applications similar to Google’s offerings just a few weeks ago. Those products, launched under the name “Mobile-Me”, were touted my Steve Jobs as being crucial to the future success of Apple and the iPhone.
I’ve been using Mobile-Me for a few weeks now, and I thought I’d give some feedback. Truthfully, it’s a very shoddy alternative to Gmail. I find the website extremely slow, and I have had loads of trouble even logging into the service. The only reason I’m still using the service at all is because Apple offers PUSH email if you have an iPhone and use Mobile-Me. But even that service has been spotty, and lately I’ve been forced to poll for my Mobile Me emails as well.
So do I think Apple’s Mobile Me service is worth paying for? Absolutely not. It’s really hard to imagine how they think what they are offering is worth $99/year, especially considering you get a lot more from Gmail and that’s free.
Unfortunately though, there aren’t many alternatives to Mobile Me if you want PUSH email on your phone. I actually spent one night looking, and had a hard time coming up with anything free. I almost wrote a big blog entry bashing Google for not implementing IMAP IDLE (which is the technology you need to do PUSH IMAP) a few weeks ago, but decided to investigate it a bit further. As it turns out, Google supports IMAP IDLE just fine (I tested this myself by using telnet, and sure enough, Google sent a message immediately to my telnet window the moment I received a new message). What that means is that Apple has deliberately NOT implemented IDLE in their IMAP client, hoping instead that people will move to Mobile Me. Since without PUSH email, there really isn’t any incentive to go with Mobile Me in my opinion.
So when it comes time to pay for Mobile Me, I think I’ll be kissing it goodbye. It’s just not up to snuff against the competition, and definitely not really worth paying money for.