Apple's Flawed MobileMe

Apple’s new MobileMe service certainly sounds impressive, it delivers push functionality for the masses – your data is pushed up to your own storage spot in the cloud, and then automagically synced with your iPhone. Pretty cool. And it really works, kind of. It syncs contacts really well, and syncs schedules too (although Apple seems to be having serious issues with the Ajax based online scheduling app). Where MobileMe falls flat on its face is where it would be most useful – email (which generally gets updated more frequently than contacts or schedules!). The problem? The service is really designed for users who want a brand new e-mail address, one on the shiny new domain. Which is great, except for the fact that the vast majority of users who’d want to use this service probably already have e-mail addresses that they like and want to keep using. Sure, there are hacks, forwarding mail back and forth, and the like. But for all of those users with good old POP mail accounts and a local copy of Outlook, MobileMe is pretty much useless. Which is sad really, because Apple could have synced Outlook inboxes to the cloud exactly as it does Outlook contacts and calendars. But nope, be it due to arrogance, shortsightedness, or just dumb oversight, Apple managed to mess up the single most compelling use case for MobileMe. What a shame.

13 responses to “Apple's Flawed MobileMe”

  1. Scott Janousek Avatar
    Scott Janousek

    BTW, Nokia just launched their own push email service across S60 devices … and it’s probably got a better chance of integrating with other parties before Apple gets a clue.
    Still kind of clunky in it’s beta state, but then there’s also emoze.
    Good/reliable synch still seems to be a pipe dream, but I’m optimistic …

  2. Fred Wenger Avatar
    Fred Wenger

    I’ve started playing with this open source push technology. They have a server product for companies and ISPs, but you can use their "my" service to sync and push email personally. I think it’s really pulling from the client, not pushing.

  3. Anthony Webb Avatar
    Anthony Webb

    I too was pretty let down when I found I couldnt somehow have for an email address. Nothing is more portable than your own domain!
    As a sidenote can someone clarify for me the difference between "push" email and "imap"? With thunderbird (and chattermail on my treo) email from my mail server is instantly delivered via IMAP. Pop requires the client to "pull" their mail, but as near as I can tell IMAP and PUSH email operate the same, correct?

  4. Dave Glawson Avatar
    Dave Glawson

    Anyone know how to get rid of this mobileme garbage off of my PC and still have my iPhone work?

  5. TJ Downes Avatar
    TJ Downes

    Push email is available in Exchange 2007 and works flawlessly. A mere $385 license of Small Business Server sets you up with your own email server with real time synchronization of email, tasks, calendar, contacts and more. Use DNS Made Easy for inexpensive DNS hosting and Mozy to perform your nightly online backups and you’ve got a very flexible and inexpensive email solution.

  6. TJ Downes Avatar
    TJ Downes

    I guess my pricing was off on Small Business Server. $1089, significant difference. Not sure were I got the impression that SBS was $385

  7. David Avatar

    And it starts at $99 / year (individual). Is it me, or is charging for email access / storage so….1990’s?

  8. Dana K Avatar
    Dana K

    The worst offense MobileMe currently has is with account renewals. My .mac account expired, and was auto upgraded to a .me acct. The problem is because it is expired, there is no billing tab in the application, or any way to renew my subscription currently. When I put in a support request, they said to go to the billing tab (which doesn’t exist in my ui when I browse). I only receive a message on the summary page stating to hit the renewal button (did I mention this doesn’t exist on there???). So basically mobileme is a brick to me at the moment, with no way to open it back up it seems for the moment.
    p.s. the support request initially responded to my .mac address….which I can’t read because…… yarg lol.

  9. Jon Stepro Avatar
    Jon Stepro

    I use an iPod Touch in concert with GMail’s IMAP service and it works great.

  10. Brock Baxter Avatar
    Brock Baxter

    I’m just waiting for Adobe to come out with a competing product (written in Cold Fusion, and maybe with a Flex frontend).
    That’ll show eM!! I’ll be the first in line!

  11. Mark Phillips Avatar
    Mark Phillips

    If you’re looking to sync Outlook emails from you own domain, and other information with your smart phone check out Accomplice -Your Partner in Time (
    You can share tasks and other information via a p2p server that the client hooks up to. It is currently only a desktop client (for Windows) but can sync with smart phones to carry the information with you. -And its put out by an Adobe Solution Partner.

  12. Mike Avatar

    I don’t see how Ben’s argument is valid. Apple marketed MobileMe as a new service and would migrate existing .Mac users into it. As far as I know, unless the mail provider supports IMAP or ActiveSync, push wouldn’t be possible with those accounts. I only have 1 out of my 4 or 5 accounts that have IMAP support. The rest are POP3. The phone does IMAP no problem which acts as a pseudo-push.

  13. steve Avatar

    I find his argument entirely valid. When purchasing a new macbook, my wife was upsold by the Mac Store salesman on the MobileMe service. He was either entirely ignorant or willfully dishonest, stating that her existing IMAP enabled accounts would sync effortlessly and that past messages stored in her Mail program would be accessible. There was no mention of needing to set up a new email address to enjoy the full breadth of this portion of MM.

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