I think it’s hard to find any technology-minded person who doesn’t know the iTunes Music Store (now called only the iTunes Store). Part of the reason why this number one internet music store has become so popular is because it integrates well with other popular Apple products like the iPod and iPhone.
But the iTunes Store is not the only web-based product from Apple that integrates well with Apple’s other popular products. There’s also MobileMe.
This is a service that provides its users with the ability to keep their email, contacts, and calendar up-to-date on all their devices automatically. MobileMe also provides a suite of web applications that let users access their information using a web browser, share photos and movies, host a website, and use an iDisk for online file storage.
The Price Is NOT Right
Considering the great ideas behind it, I can’t help but wonder why MobileMe receives far less attention than it should. Even from Mac users.
Maybe the main reason for this not-so-successful marketing attempt is the fact that MobileMe is not a free service. After the 60 days free trial, users should spare US$ 99 for a yearly subscription fee.
Actually, there’s nothing wrong about offering a paid service. The problem is, with everything that is available today online (and offline), you could assemble your own MobileMe-like features for free. And free is hard to beat.
Here are some options that you could use to have the similar features of MobileMe without having to open your wallet.
Matching the offers
Let’s break down MobileMe’s offers and then look at ways to match them.
1. Sync your contacts and calendars
With the help of GoogleSync, you could sync your Mac’s contacts and calendars to your smartphone.
The first thing you should do is to enable Address Book’s and iCal’s ability to synchronize with Google Mail and Google Calendar. Open Address Book and go to its Preferences (Command + Comma). Click Accounts, and give a checkbox to the “Synchronize with Google” option box and click “Configure”
Fill in your Google Account’s data and click OK.
Do the same with your calendar(s). Open iCal and go to the Preferences. Click Account and click Add.
Choose Google on the Account Type, fill in your Google account data and click “Create“.
Your Google account will appear and you could edit the information if you want to.
The next step would be to configure your smartphone to synchronize to your Google account using Google Sync. The supported devices are iPhone, Blackberry, Nokia S60 and Windows Mobile.
You can find the complete instructions on how to do this on the Google Sync page. Just choose the type of smartphone you have and click on the respective instructions.
Don’t forget to backup your data before and after the process. You can’t be too careful.
2. Access information online
If you set everything up right in the previous step, your information will automatically be available online through Google Mail and Google Calendar. So, no problem here.
3. Share photos and movies
You could use various online services like Flickr or Picasa Web Albums to share your photos and many other video sharing services like YouTube for movies. Alternatively, you could build your own WordPress photo gallery for this purpose.
4. Website hosting
This is also something that you could build yourself. We’ve discussed about several places where you could host your site for free, a method to create your own self-hosted WordPress blog, and create and publish your iWeb sites.
5. Online Storage
MobileMe provide its users with 20GB worth of online storage, but there are already many free online storage providers out there that offer even bigger (or nearly as much) storage space.
There are of course features of MobileMe that are irreplaceable, such as the ability to find a lost iPhone and secure it. The integration between all of the features is also a plus point for MobileMe.
After listening to a free audiobook entitled “Free” by Chris Anderson, I think Apple should change its marketing tactics for MobileMe to make the service more successful. Maybe the basic features of MobileMe should be available for free while users are given options to upgrade the services for a fee. But that is just my personal opinion.
Have you tried MobileMe? Do you know other free (and maybe better) alternatives? Please share using the comments below.