I subscribed to Apple’s mobileme service the moment it was offered. I’d played around with quasi-competitive services (or combinations of services) but none of them gave me that “Exchange Server for the rest of us” kind of feeling. In many ways, the service provided me with exactly what I needed, primarily contact/calendar syncing across multiple macs and my iPhone.
I also figured that going the “all Apple” route would result in the best, most integrated overall experience and ultimately the best value proposition.
With the coming of the iPad and its many forward-looking possibilities however, I can’t help but wonder if it won’t be a strong driver that pushes Apple to beef up mobileme. Or, approached from the other direction, I wonder whether mobileme won’t be revamped in a souped up “must have” iteration that iPad users will essentially have to have in order to break out of the “but it’s just a big iPod Touch!” thing.
It makes sense from a revenue standpoint. Incremental users cost Apple appreciably close to zero. The back end is built and works for the most part in my experience. They have that giant data center more or less sitting there looking for something to do. Is this in the cards?
Here’s what I’d like to see:
Email: I don’t use the mobileme email address because I already have my primary business email, and both a gmail and yahoo account. The last thing I need is another one. What I’d like however is the ability to use mobileme’s push email in seamless conjunction with another email account (which otherwise lacks push). The hitch is that you cannot spoof the “from” address. Mobileme’s servers won’t let you.
So yes, you can forward an email address to your mobileme address which’d then get pushed to your device. But when you respond, people will see the mobileme address rather than your preferred address (even if only buried in the header). It feels unprofessional to me and so I don’t do this. This doesn’t relate specifically to the iPad but I want it anyway 😀
Photos: To be honest I don’t use the gallery app, or mobileme galleries in general. It’s something I probably should do as it’d probably be a neat way to quickly push pix of the kids off to grandma and grandpa (on their iPhones…) so maybe I’ll have to figure that out. However, what I’d *really* love to see is for the Gallery portion of mobileme to become cloud storage for iPhoto (or ‘Photos’ on our devices). So there would be no distinction b/c the two, and you’d not be limited by your local storage size.
Music/Media: as with photos, I dream of the cloud storage/sync scenario, with streaming as a bandwidth-dependent option.
iDisk: we’ve all speculated about a “file system” of sorts on the iPad, and we know that on some level the iPad drive will be mountable when attached to a mac. But what else will we be able to do? How much finder-like control will we have to sort data (as opposed to simply storing it)? How robust will our ability to access the data be? A more robust version of iDisk could essentially become the ‘file system’ on the iPad, while also providing essentially unlimited cloud back ups of any/all docs.
Much of what I outline above could be handled on an app by app basis, and not necessarily rolled into mobileme. But as I ponder, I kind of like the integrated approach, especially since I’m already a mobileme user…
Apple store employees have told a friend that many come in with dead iPhones without anyway to restore their data to a new iPhone because they never synched to iTunes. I suppose they desired the iPhone without realizing the importance of synching. Apple must be aware that the iPad will also be purchased by this common user type. I’m speculating that options will surface, most likely some form of Time Machine for iPhone OS with the option of backing up to a TimeCapsule or MobileMe with an method for complete restore, thereby enabling OS upgrades.
Another thought about backups to the cloud. To speed the process of a cloud back-up content purchased from iTunes Store could be represented by a DRM receipt, enabling restore direct from the iTunes Store server.
Thanks for posting, and agreed. In fact I know several iPhone users who fall squarely into that category – love the iPhone because it works great and provides a wonderful overall experience, but are not especially technically savvy. Frankly they could even use a “forced” option that provided backups without having to do much configuring, opting in, etc. I don’t think we’ll get that, but something simple for those who simply aren’t inclined to sync to a mac would sure come in handy.
Interesting thought on the DRM receipt. In general I like ideas like that. I think about certain movies I’ve purchased 5 – 6 times – VHS, LD, DVD, DVD director’s cut, Blu Ray, etc. And I think “Gee, wouldn’t it be great if there were a system that simply acknowledged that I’d already paid for this content?” I’m a firm believer that we will ultimately get almost entirely away from physical media. Perhaps not 100% for there may always be collectors, but close to 100%. These types of DRM receipt scenarios square with that.
I also signed up for MobileMe the second it was available. At the time, it was the only way to get push email and calendars in a easy way. Over time, other services have caught up and I could no longer justify paying the extra money.
I have since replaced MobileMe with a combination of Gmail with Push, Google Calendar, Picasa and Dropbox for the iDisk substitute. I have been using this free system for about 5 months now and I am pretty happy with the result. Gmail push can be a bit buggy at times but it has come a long way since it has been launched.
It is my hope that both MM as well as these Google services step up their game for the iPad, but as of now I do not regret the switchover. I couldn’t see myself driving through a rough neighborhood tracking down my stolen iPhone with ‘find my phone’ like Charles Bronson anyway.
Thanks for posting Rob. I certainly can’t debate that Google’s suite of offerings has a decided price advantage! Also, it’s long felt to me that Apple was offering “just enough” with mobileme to be credible, but not more. I didn’t mention this in the post but the other aspect of my hope for mm is that Apple will not raise the price when/if/as added functionality is rolled into the service. We’ll see!
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Thanks for posting Daren. It should be a fun ride, this iPad thing!