Thurrott'ling MobileMe: Leaked Apple Memo, Poor Windows Experience?

While noted Windows pundit Paul Thurrott might be an out-of-the-closet iPhone lover, it seems his experiences with, and feelings for, MobileMe have been more towards the negative.

There have certainly been problems with MobileMe, and Apple has reached out to users as Casey posted yesterday. Now Thurrott has a leaked Apple sales note, reportedly sent out to redefine their language in light of these problems:

MobileMe Messaging Update MobileMe messaging is being updated effective immediately. In order to set appropriate expectations with our customers, focus your sales discussion on "automatic sync" rather than "push." Additionally, we will no longer describe MobileMe as "Exchange for the rest of us." When discussing the sync features of MobileMe, you may tell a customer that: Updates between and iPhone or iPod touch will occur in a matter of seconds. Updates between and Macs running Mac OS X Leopard and Windows PCs may take up to 15 minutes when MobileMe is set to sync automatically (Macs running Mac OS X Tiger may experience longer sync times).

Ouch! Want some double-ouch with a hefty side dish of rant? Check out Thurrott's complete post where he focuses on lack of IE7 and Firefox support and, in part, takes David Pogue's iPhone 3G review out for a ride...

Is Thurrott justified given Apple's painful and still botched MobileMe roll-out? Or is he upset the mass-media is still dissing on Vista and wants to throw some fire Apple's way? Little of both?

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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

Thurrott'ling MobileMe: Leaked Apple Memo, Poor Windows Experience?


I think he's largely right. I got the free trial for MobileMe and I've been thoroughly unimpressed. Apple called it "exchange for the rest of us" and even if they had delivered on that, it wouldn't be anywhere close to "exchange for the rest of us", it would be a halfway okay syncing system.
What is impressive about exchange is how someone can invite me to an event, that invitation gets pushed to my device, I accept and it gets added to my calendar. Or my boss adds a client's contact info and it gets pushed to my device (not to mention my desktop computers).
MobileMe doesn't even come close to that kind of functionality. It basically just keeps me from tethering my phone to sync my calendars and contacts. Big whoop.
Yeah, it gives you a push e-mail address, but so does Yahoo. Yeah, it gives you idisk, but online based storage is all over the web.
Really, this isn't that much better than the justifiably maligned .mac. Its useful for a few people, but doesn't really do enough for the VAST majority that they'd ever pay $100 a year for it.
Here is what I would want before I'd pay full price:
Every user gets a page with a name something like
From there others/you could:
invite you to events (with an option of requiring a password for this option)
Look at your calendar (again, with password protection as an option, even having different passwords for different levels of access, ie a work password, a personal calendar pass code and a master password giving full access (for you or spouse)).
forward you contact info (that you could accept or deny)
search your contacts (again, with password protection)
upload pictures (that you can accept or deny)
do the stuff that idisk and the pictures functions already does.
All of this would then be pushed to your iphone. With invites to events showing up as a little number on your calendar, contact invitations as little numbers on your contacts book, etc.
This would obviously require a lot of passwords, but I don't see that as a HUGE issue.
THAT would then be "exchange for the rest of us" not to even go into the issues that the linked article does.

I like the whole "Facebook"/"Myspace" type idea you got there..
I just have to say though I myself am very happy with it because of the Picture part.. I love it. And it's easy uploading from my iPhone. Got no complaints here.

eh, I mean I like the pictures thing, but there are so many free pictures sites out there that it's hard for me to really justify paying 100 bucks for it. I think that's my main problem. Although its more clunky to use several different services, I can't think of a single thing that MobileMe does, outside of push calendar changes to your iphone and other computers without tethering, that I can't do with various free services.
Integration into one app is great and all, its obviously easier, but I really don't think that its worth 100 bucks. And its certainly not exchange for the rest of us.

For me, it's the .Mac holdovers of Mac syncing and Back To My Mac that make it worth the price of admission, and everything else -- provided and hoping they can work out the bugs -- is gravy.
Just yesterday I realized I'd lost a web directory so used Back to My Mac to connect to my iMac and pull the files out of an old Time Machine repository. Directory back live in just a few minutes and clicks. Worth $100 right there.
Getting home and having pretty much the same mail, browser, and bookmark states as when I left work is also great.
For Windowphiles like Thurrott, however, I can see it offering less ROI in its current state.

If you were expecting MobileMe to be for more than just personal use, you were looking at the wrong solution. You sound like you need a hosted Exchange service, not a push service designed for individuals.
They labeled it "Exchange for the Rest of Us" due to the instant push between the cloud and the iPhone, and the sync between the desktop and the iPhone (yes, cloud to iphone and iphone to cloud IS instant push), not because it would have corporate level Exchange features.
You can't be mad at a service for not living up to lofty expectations you set for it by reading too much into the tag line associated with it. Watching any of the demo's of the service alone would have told you that it wouldn't offer the level of usability you were looking for.
However, it can do some of what you are talking about. If you have a MobileMe account and you give your boss the log in info, he surely can log into the Web Apps and add a contact, and it surely will be pushed to your device. He can also add and remove calendar entries to the same effect.
Maybe calling it Exchange for the Rest of Us was a bit much, and maybe that is why they are pulling that tag line. That said though, you can't honestly have expected a service that costs $100 a year be on par with real Exchange or even multi-license hosted Exchange that can run more than that per MONTH... (Your average hosted Exchange is about $15 or so PER USER, PER MONTH...)

It's not so much of what I was expecting as I really don't see a whole lot that I can't get for free or at least substantially cheaper from other sites.
I realize that for some its useful, I am just stating from a personal perspective, I am having a hard time seeing what it offers and how its really different from .mac.
If you thought .mac was worth it, then yeah, I see that, but very few people thought .mac was worth it. And yes, I realize, a lot of this was just poor usage of the phrase "exchange for the rest of us". Even when watching the demos I thought "this doesn't even do 1/10th of what exchange does."
I also think that something like what I described is entirely feasible, however, it would require cross app integration, which I believe is only possible for official apple applications. For instance, google calendars could pretty easily add a lot of it, but it would require the ability to sync your google calendar and your iPhone calendar, which I don't think is even theoretically possible.
And I don't really understand why mobileme CAN'T do what I described. All it would take is just making available on a password basis what is available to my master account. I can't imagine its all that difficult for apple to section off parts of mobileme so that you can give other users limited access.
Again, I'm not so much bashing mobileme as A) agreeing on how way off base the claim "exchange for the rest of us" was and B) explaining what it would take for me to actually pay 100 bucks for the service. I understand there were and are people who paid 100 bucks for .mac, but there really weren't many, and if apple wants to change that, they have to do more than just rebrand it and make it prettier.

one other thing, I think that mobileme push is obliterating my batter. This is a 1st gen iPhone, no 3G enabled. I used to get up, unplug my iPhone from the charger, do a lot of things, then check my phone for the first time around 10:30-11 on weekends and it would still be full power. Now I can see that it has gone down somewhat if it just sits there for a couple of hours, with no activity whatsoever.