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23 July, 2008

Apple's MobileMe Leaves Me Wanting Maine

We have been long time members of the old .Mac service. That service was reborn as MobileMe right around July 11th, the same day the iPhone 3G was delivered. I can understand why Apple needed to update .Mac. I can almost even understand why they had to change the name. Yet, after using MobileMe for a few weeks I'm still not quite sure if I like the change or not.

Why the name change? The only reason that makes marketing sense to me is that over the last 2 years Apple customer demographics has changed. In 2006, the average Apple customer was a Macintosh computer user, most likely working in the creative artsy fartsy industry. Most thought they drank fine wine and / or microbrews and knew who Needham was. These folks felt that computers were tools and like all good tools, they were best for getting specific tasks done which left time for sun tanning and house flipping. They didn't care that their computer had 1000 versions of solitaire. They just wanted their machine to get the job done, easily, quickly and without the silly thing getting in the way.

In 2008, the average Apple customer is a computer user that happens to own some sort of Apple product. This time, the computer may not be an Apple product. This time those customers might have an iPhone, iPod, AppleTV (all 4 of us) and a Windows computer or Linux box (boxes hold higher esteem then computers, plus Apple may have submitted a patent for the box). These non-Apple Computer owners have different needs. Their self image isn't the same as those that bought Apple Computers when most were buying the "grey towers". These folks trade cards, drive Humvees, drink Budweiser (not that foreign Czech stuff either) and they know who Cannonball Baker is.

Apple Marketing took all of this in and in their infinite wisdom decided to drop Dot Mac and replace it with Me! I mean MobileMe. There was much hula ballou about the new service with promises of push email, calendering, addresses, pictures and more. This was even going to push Exchange email - the most popular business email solution on the planet and perhaps in the universe.

But come July 11th, MobileMe was running into some issues that were remarkably like the last product that had the "Me" moniker. Windows ME was supposed to be the answer to home user's problems but it was as useful as Vista has been. Hopefully, the glitches of the past few weeks doesn't portend a Miserable MobileME future.

While a bunch of people have had problems. I mean real problems, like not being able to connect, losing address books, email not being pushed, calendar corruption, I have been relatively lucky. I had a few early glitches. I suspect some were due to going with version of Mobile Me. If anything cries out "Be nervous!" it is installing a piece of software that says version (disclaimer -- I'm making up those version numbers folks. I did install the first general release and it was quickly followed by an upgrade). I could have at least waited for the first update, but sometimes I'm just too impatient.

My glitches came primarily around syncing of my address book. At one point, my laptop's addressbook went from some 500+ entries down to 4. Now, I might occasionally loose a friend or two but losing over 500 is quite a feat even for me. Luckily, Time Machine had a backup. Restoring the address book was easier then eating a pickled egg.

Within a week or so, everything - calendars, addresses, email, photos galleries were syncing fine between all of my devices. This week (23 July 2008) I've noticed that the MobileMe web site is even adequately responsive.

The downside. With all the goodness of reliable syncing between devices there are a few things I miss. I miss eCards. With Dot Mac, my calendar would remind me that a friends birthday was coming up. It would suggest I send an Apple eCard to make them happy about being able to join AARP. Well, don't expect to get your Birthday card now. MobileMe still tells me it is your birthday but eCards is gone. I suppose I could use Blue Mountain or I could just skip the whole thing and blame it on Apple.

Oh, and if you had Groups before, they are still around. You just need to go here to access them. However, you can't create a new group. I can see some clubs, associations, crime families and others feeling a bit left out. I suppose you can use iWeb to do something similar, but it won't be as easy as with My Groups.

Same goes with the old HomePage. Now granted, iWeb pretty much replaced HomePage over the last 2 years. But, I'm old and set in my ways (though I do use iWeb for some 4 sites or so) and want the ease with which one could set up a site with HomePage. MobileMe doesn't have that feature. So, I am stuck with using iWeb or Joomla or some other content management system.

The most critical bit for me is my email address. Right now it is a address. How long before Apple tells me I absolutely have to give that up and use Not only is that address way longer but it sounds so "Me" centric. Apple should have learned about the karmatic dangers of labeling something 'Me'. Could it be that all the recent marketing hires within Apple came from Microsoft and that is why ME has snuck back in?

So, Apple! Give me back Groups. Let me keep my access to HomePage with the ability to generate new HomePages. Don't force me to abandon my long standing email address! And finally ditch the term 'Me'. Unless you mean 'Maine'. Do you mean Maine? I've been to Maine. I want Maine!


e tutto per oggi!


Anonymous said...

Lol. Can you be any more smug? Any more obvious in your snobbery? Let me get this straight, by your description early mac owners '06 (that's a laugh, I've owned macs since '86) know how to live. They barely spend time on their machines, and only then to accomplish tasks. They're off to wine tasting and horse shows. In general, they know how to live.

Then along comes the mob. Ipods bring in the riff raff and here comes the bud drinkers and the NASCAR bunch, in other words, Windows users.

I own one of those artsy fartsy companies you mention and as an award winning designer of products, some of which you undoubtedly own, I can say without fear of contradiction that mac owners are the most obsessed, gadget oriented bunch of process lovers (not result oriented) that I've ever met. And I should know, I am one.

Mac owners, I would wager a month's profit, spend more time on their beloved mac than any Windows user does on his/her PC, easily.

Mac owners consider their macs family members, not tools as you suggest.

I recall what Douglas Adams said about his mac, that it provided a new avenue of wasting time and avoiding writing, taking the place of earlier distractions. He said, "My mac is indispensable. Before I had my mac, I would constantly search for ways to avoid writing. Now, I can easily avoid writing by configuring my mac endlessly." Or something like that. You can look it up if you are online long enough to type it out while waiting for your wine to breathe.

I'm not sure what ad campaign worked on you, I suspect all of them by the nature of your tone, but whatever it was, you swallowed it whole. Your post is a textbook example of successful indoctrination from product campaigning.

You've made some ad boys very happy.

Sarre9 said...

Wow! Were you like watching me or something?

Here I was sipping a glass of wine; a 2003 Zin from KAZ Vineyard & Winery. I just spent most of my Sunday on my Mac configuring eFront on a virtual server sitting in the cloud. Strange as it may seem, I finished that about an hour ago and was actually 'Stumbling' through some web sites. Just now I was reading about Easter Island, but just before that .. and this is what is weird, I was printing out some philosophical grounding tools for my kid that is about to start the 10th grade. Who was the philosopher? None other then the mighty Douglas Adams himself. I figure she needs to know that we all should fear "the coming of the Great White Handkerchief!".

But back to your great comments. O.K., so I probably could be more smug. But I don't think I made any ad boys happy. I mean, all these ads on this blog and I haven't even made enough to buy a pint! What's up with that? And snobbery? Hey! I share my wine (or microbrew) with anyone that stops by. I prefer the finer beers because I believe your liver has only so much alcohol dehydrogenase generating capacity across your lifetime, so why waste it on cheap beer?

I obviously must have been brain washed by some ad campaign. For I'm not quite sure what you are driving at that I "swallowed it whole". What I was hoping to express in my usual smug and snobbish way was that I am not that enamored with MobileMe. Not in the name, the functionality nor the rollout (which The Steve apparently wasn't quite happy about either). I don't quite understand why Apple blew it. Am I going to drop MM? Most likely not since I have seen Apple version 1 software enough to know that they will get it right at some point. Well, maybe they won't get the name right.

I will give you this though. I generalized a bit... o.k. a lot. But, I was right in one aspect. You are a creative type. You use a Mac. You use that Mac to get things done. You wouldn't have a successful business if you didn't produce results with those processes. I'll admit to one more bit - I have been a long time Apple / Mac fan since the first Apple I. Somewhere I still have an Interface Age (boy, am I old) that has an Apple I advert. I'll never throw that one out as that advert represent the genesis of Apple. Hmm, o.k, so that ad campaign must have been the seed to my brainwashing. Damn .. Guilty!

I can easily spend all day on my Mac whether it is for work or creativity. I believe we can become attached to our tools; a favorite paint brush, chisel, spade, race car or computer. The craftsman and their tool connect in a way that allows them to create more then what one would expect. The computer is just another tool that extends our creative abilities. Somehow and for some reason, it appears that the Mac has always provided me with an easier freedom of creativity.

Yet, I know people that are as attached to their PCs (Windows and Linux) as I am to my Mac. And that is fine. For me the tool of choice is the Mac. For it lets me get my work done so I can drink fine wine and stumble through Douglas Adam websites. And if that means I have been indoctrinated by some product campaign well at least it wasn't for Spray on Hair!