MobileMe: Is Syncing Hard... or Downright Impossible?

MobileMe: Apple Apologizes Again

Mild Mannered Industries, which claims some experience with Sync Services, has an interesting and insightful blog post about how MobileMe syncing probably works, why syncing in general is so hard, and if we can ever look forward to a day where MobileMe actually, really, truly "just works":

Is this really Apple’s fault? In the case of Mobile Me, and .Mac before it, all of the code is essentially Apple’s, but I think this just goes to show how hard it is to get a sync client and the core sync services code right. When you add in all of the third-party Sync client code, and mail synchronization, it just seems inevitable that many users will hit a problem at some point, and become very very unhappy.

Their glass-not-only-half-empty-but-broken-and-spilled-out-on-the-table outlook?

Personally, if it was me, I would have let .Mac die a quiet death. The problem set for ubiquitous syncing is just very very hard, and the consequences of failure, in terms of user dissatisfaction are too high. I suspect that, in time, MobileMe will go the same way as the Newton …

Our take? Pretty much the opposite. Not to get all Tennyson about it, but Apple is strong of will as they come, and striving, seeking, and finding the most reliable sync solution possible is only going to increase in importance when it comes to the mobile world they're embracing with the iPhone and related technologies. Perhaps they won't crack the nut, but they'll mess it up something fierce in the attempt. And come on, would any of us really rather have no sync at all?

(via Daring Fireball)

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

MobileMe: Is Syncing Hard... or Downright Impossible?


for $99 a year i expect it to work. i'm not paying that much for a service that doesn't work as advertised. i'll stick to local synching until they get mobileme right. maybe they should take a page from danger. synch and push always worked great on my old sidekick 2.

I did have issues first trying to get it set up. Once I did get it going it has been flawless and a joy to use.

With all of the Billions of dollars that Apple has in their war chest why doesn't Apple just buy a company that specializes in sync the way that PA Semi specialized in low power processors?

I have more problems with Windows Vista every single day than I have had with MobileMe. I think people just expect too much. Even corporations with a dedicated technical team have problems with push. It's life, get used to it. And $99 a year isn't very much money for networking related stuff, so please don't act like you're spending a lot of coin for the service you're being offered because anything comparable in an enterprise setting would cost 10x more to maintain.

I am slowly moving from Gmail to all MobileMe. In the last month or so of using it, I had one day where the sync was messed up on MobileMe, and once I reset that, it's been nearly flawless. There are a couple of annoyances, such as the inability to set reminders via the calendar app...but the contacts and bookmarks, in particular, work amazingly well, on my iPhone 3G, iMac, MacBook, and PC at work. Nobody's saying the service is flawless; but it works very well. And for $8.33/month, I am happy. Everyone says $99/year is too much--try getting the same solution via Exchange or BlackBerry for that much. Give it time to mature.

Honestly, I sympathise with all those who have had issues with MobileMe. In my case, I waited for a few weeks and then last week set up my home and work computers and my iPod Touch. Sorry to report but I have had no problems. Very slick set-up.

MobileMe is not worth it - I wouldn't trust it since it can even get Yahoo! mail push email working correctly, so why would I pay for a service that only works when it feels like it. Glad I kept my BlackBerry for work purposes otherwise my boss would be pissed for the amount of emails I would be missing. :-(

@javatyger Yahoo has nothing to do with MobileMe. Yahoo has always been not so good on the iPhone but that is the fault of Yahoo's, not Apple nor your phone.

I do my syncing via hosted Exchange with Sherweb for $8.99 / month. For that I get 3GB storage, Outlook Web Access and the full Outlook client if I need it. At the moment it's superior in functionality to MobileMe and it works faultlessly on the iPhone.

If you use BIS with BB then it's free, it comes with the service plan with your carrier. Now for a BES that costs the company some money.
Personally I just use IMAP with GMail and it works great.
I feel they should just include a "" account with the phone. That would be ideal for me and I'm sure others would like that too.

Syncing Contacts has been a pain as it didn't seem to want to update from my Address Book. I went into Leopard OS Preferences/Mobile Me and re Sync'd from there.
As Mobile Me doesn't work with Subscribed Calendars I only turned on the Contacts,Mail and Bookmarks on the iPhone.
Following the Set up steps #2 & #3 are important.
It worked I hope it stays working!

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