Monday, June 9, 2008
Posted by Jason Dunn in "Pocket PC Competition" @ 03:46 PM
Something big happened today: Apple announced what I believe is the first credible consumer-focused Exchange-like service: the ability to sync calendar, contacts, email, files, and photos to multiple devices. Jump over to Apple's Web site and check out their MobileMe service. Watching the guided tour video is probably the best way to understand what the service is capable of. I watched that as well, and the word "compelling" kept swirling around in my head. This is a powerful salvo across the bow of the SS Microsoft - and I have a sneaking suspicion that Microsoft's Live team has been paying so much attention to Google they didn't see this one coming (not in a way they can respond to quickly at least).
Microsoft has had all the pieces for years: Exchange, Foldershare, Windows Mobile, Live Mail, etc...but they never put them together into a compelling service. What about hosted Exchange? The functionality from hosted Exchange isn't that far off (though the photo and file sharing is lacking), but let's face it, hosted Exchange as it is now is in no way consumer friendly - from the name to the features to the marketing to the partners...even the pricing isn't all that friendly when you're talking multiple users. The MobileMe pricing is quite reasonable in comparison to most hosted Exchange accounts: MobileMe is $99/year for 20 GB of storage, or $149 per year for a five-person family account. 20 GB of extra storage costs $49/year extra, and 40 GB of storage is an extra $99/year. Your average hosted Exchange account costs $120 to $180 per year for 2 or 3 GB of storage.
Now I'm sure like all Apple products and services, there are some nasty "gotcha's" under the surface (does this service work with custom domain emails?), and for some people this service might be too simplistic. I know I'm very happy with how hosted Exchange works for me (I use 4smartphone), and it's tough to beat Smugmug for photos. Still, there's no denying that this is a strong initial offering from Apple - that's my take on it at least. What do you think?