Dec 10

The meandering me.com

Like looking at baby photos, isn't it

The latest Steve Jobs email being passed about addresses the subject of me.com. After a loyal customer complained that me.com had become basically unusable for him, Steve (reportedly) answered: “it will get a lot better in 2011.”


MobileMe has pretty much followed the path of its previous iterations: launched with fanfare, but never quite making its case with the Apple-buying public. The trick is coming up with a compelling reason for the Mac buyer to tack it onto his/her purchase at the Apple Store.

Archaeologists will remember that MobileMe was launched as iTools back in 2000. There was an initial land-grab for mac.com email addresses, and with muted enthusiasm people used the iCards service and created web pages with HomePage. iTools also contained an early version of iDisk, iReview (mini-reviews of websites) and KidSafe, which attempted to shield kids from the seedy side of the Internet.

In 2002, iTools turned into .Mac. There were some nomenclature issues here, as you then had a mac.com account with a service called .Mac. A wee bit confusing. Now Apple was charging us $99/year, but they improved iDisk, brought us personal web hosting and added the Backup app. In later years, .Mac would sprout some new features, like iPhoto Gallery pages and .Mac Groups. .Mac’s most important feature by far was its ability to sync your Mac and iPhone, so Address Book and iCal were always up to date. Indispensable.

In 2008, .Mac morphed into MobileMe. This was a major makeover, at least marketing-wise. It was recast to take advantage of the mass migration toward mobile devices, led by iPhone. Syncing your entire digital life (personal info, photos, movies) took center stage. At this point, those mac.com email addresses became me.com addresses. That’s when I officially became a resister, choosing to remain a mac.com person. That’s the kind of rebel I am. I pondered why Apple tossed aside that important bit of Mac branding and why they’d spend whatever fortune it took to buy the me.com domain from whoever owned it before. I imagined they planned to make a much bigger deal of the “me” thing, but that never happened.

Whatever, HomePage was now killed. iCards were long forgotten. .Mac groups were discontinued.

While I used to rely extensively on MobileMe for email, syncing and iDisk, I’m actually down to just one primary use: syncing. I’ve started using my web host’s email service to avoid the periodic outages I experienced with Apple’s email, and I eagerly abandoned iDisk after years of spinning disks and other frustrations. Dropbox is infinitely better, not only syncing files perfectly but serving a backup function by remembering past versions of documents. After getting attached to Dropbox so quickly, I was sure Apple would solve their iDisk issues by simply buying Dropbox. Or at least use it as inspiration. Since neither has happened, my iDisk folder has grown dusty and cobwebby. I’m really just paying $99/year to keep my info in sync and have the convenience of a web gallery.

So here we go again. MobileMe will “get a lot better” in 2011. Forgive me if I hold back emotionally on this one. This product and I have had relationship issues, and I want to be sure before I get involved again.

  • Scott

    Like you Ken, I jumped on to iTools when it first came out and claimed my .mac email address that I never want to relinquish. I also refuse to use .me. When I see that, I can’t help but think “It’s all about ME.” Basically I pay the $99 to keep my email address, web galleries, and for the syncing. I know I can get similar sync capabilities and photo sharing for less, but don’t feel like messing with it.

  • Wow. I couldn’t agree with you more.

    I, too, am paying $99 for the ability to simply sync my data.

    Dropbox is far superior to iDisk, and Picasa & Flickr offer SIGNIFICANTLY better web sharing of photos than MobileMe.

    Even iWeb has been abandoned by Apple, so MobileMe’s ability to host your iWeb websites doesn’t even matter anymore. Not to mention that you could host your iWeb websites other places, as well.

    MobileMe has really become quite the financial scam to the customer.

    I’m THIS CLOSE to switching over all of my syncing capabilities to Google, which is totally 100% free.

    I’m sick of paying $99 per year to Apple for basically nothing, and I’m sick of paying $99 per year to Apple for something that Google offers for free.

    (Even though you can get MobileMe for cheaper through Amazon.com, it’s still simply not worth it anymore.)

  • No mention of eWorld?!

  • Miya

    I’ve been a ‘MobileMe’ user since the .Mac days and couldn’t agree more with your post.

    I think it’s criminal that Apple gets away with charging for MobileMe and only offers IM-based support, especially with all the problems it’s been having since the last upgrade.

    The latest web email is also shocking, having done away with the useful ‘quick look’ functionality. Even Gmail allows you to view PDFs and the like without having to download them locally first.

    It’s also not possible to accept iCal invitations via MobileMe online.

    Every single time I try and view my email via the browser (any browser) on a Windows machine, I get a ‘script may be running slowly’ message too.

    I’m afraid I now feel completed conned and trapped by MobileMe. Let’s hope it gets better in 2011 – it can’t get any worse!

  • ken segall

    @Tom Dolan:
    Ha! eWorld. I’d actually forgotten that one. Maybe 2011’s version can be MeWorld?

  • Funny, I seem to remember Steve making a very similar comment the year before last about MobileMe “soon” to get a whole lot better, just after they had the epic failure of the initial launch.

    I love MobileMe to bits – it’s beautiful, but feature-wise it’s got a long way to go to catch up to the competition.

    Something tells me Steve isn’t just speaking hot air this time, though – that North Carolina data centre has got to be used for something…

  • Scott Brookes

    I also kept my .mac email going. I like telling people it. they always ask if im a mac user after…. great conversation starter

    for me it was worth it for the push updates/sync and for Find My iPhone…. but now that they have made FMI free its getting to be closer to a ripoff

    but ill prolly keep it anyway because i want to keep my .mac email

    atleast until i can get an @apple.com email ;)

  • I jumped on .mac during Steve’s announcement of it in 2000. Like the rest of you I don’t ever want to give my email address up. However, I do use the .me account for my new purchases. It’s interesting to see who’s selling it to others. And I still use homepage.mac.com site to create my own websites with links on topics I’m interested in. Example – Henry David Thoreau: http://homepage.mac.com/donsmith/thoreau.html