Mobile Me-Too

Last modified on August 11th, 2008

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.

iPhone 3G

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.

10 responses to “Mobile Me-Too”

  1. Dale says:

    well, I disagree. Having my bookmarks, calendars and addressbook synced between my Macs and the iPhone is what I really feel the service is best for. At current I haven’t found a reasonably smooth service that’ll do it elsewhere. With push on, everything stays up to date across the machines and the phone effortlessly.

  2. John says:

    I agree with Dale… somewhat. Having the ability to sync contacts and calendars between my laptop, desktop and iPhone seamlessly is great. I’m just not sure it’s worth $139 Cdn a year. I can’t be bothered to use the email since I have my own domains, I don’t want another address which is subpar compared to using Gmail in terms of options.

  3. Duane Storey says:

    Fair enough. I don’t really use contacts on my laptop/iMac, and sort of only rely on them on my iPhone, so to me that’s not a huge sell. But I understand it might be for other people. I also heard that the PUSH data doesn’t quite work yet on other machines, and that there’s a 15 minute delay still with contacts.

    I’m so reliant on gmail for my calendar, that having the Apple one is basically useless to me. If Mobile Me would also sync with my Google one, it would be far more useful to me.

  4. This is the real story:

    “What that means is that Apple has deliberately NOT implemented IDLE in their IMAP client, hoping instead that people will move to Mobile Me.”

    Blows me away that they won’t even allow for this. If the calendar and bookmarking sync is what most people see as being the main benefit of Mobile Me, then you would think Apple would at least be generous enough to let us use Gmail for push email.

  5. Hesty says:

    I believe google contact, calendar and bookmark sync are already available for ages. Granted, you can’t sync it to mobile phone yet but maybe Android will have that capability.

  6. Dale says:

    yeah I know this is all ridiculous, but for me, the sync is a huge time saver, and has kept me organized. I agree with you john- the price point is a little excessive.

  7. John says:

    Dale: the only reason I have .Me/.Mac is that I came across a .Mac retail box in a clearance bin for $20 – I’d totally pay that for the sync.

    Duane: you should really check out CalDav support for Google Calendar – coupled with iCal, it will make life much easier…you may even crave the push cal sync 😉 Personally, I’ve used iCal for ages and shunned gCal since it wouldn’t sync with anything properly…until now.

  8. Duane Storey says:

    @John – cool, I’ll check it out. Also, I’m heading to SFO this weekend. Not sure if you’re in or not, but I’m gonna drive to Seattle on Friday and hit the party.

  9. John E says:

    well … i think your story demonstrates that if you are already set up with Google – and a lot of people are – then MobileMe is not a good match. you wind up in the big gaps between the two. but i wasn’t, so setting things up from scratch in .Mac worked fine. and i do use its other services, which makes it convenient for a one-stop service. many improvements have been suggested of course and no doubt there will be some by the end of the year, as promised by Sir Jobs. you’d think Google would release an iPhone App that solved some of the glitches too.

  10. Alan H says:

    @Duane: For me the win is Calendar syncing and push of calendar and contacts. Don’t even use the email. But the over-the-air sync of contacts (less) and calendar (critical) is a huge win for me.

    This makes the iPhone a blackberry killer for me, finally. If you didn’t pay for Mobile Me, then your trial didn’t include these features. This is what really annoyed me, I had to pay first to get the two things that I really wanted to try. Turns out I like it, and it’s good enough that I might consider upgrading to a family account when my wife gets an iPhone.

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