Apple's MobileMe Also Has Activation Problems; But Might Be The Killer App For Apple Long-Term

Tricia Duryee
Friday, July 11, 2008; 2:00 PM

Apple's ( NSDQ: AAPL) new Web service called MobileMe, which allows people to sync their contacts, calendar, email and other data between their iPhone and computers, is also experiencing activation problems today. The service, which they explain as "exchange for the rest of us," has great potential?and ultimately could even prove more valuable to Apple than the App store?but a poor start today could leave a sour taste in iPhone owner's mouths. AP reported late yesterday that some users were denied access to their accounts, which cost $99 a year. Om Malik at GigaOm also reported problems. Glenn Fleishman at is posting on Twitter that MobileMe screwed up syncing his contacts and now he has duplicates. "The usual Apple crap," he writes. "They are incapable of getting this right." When the site isn't dead, he says, he has 1,000 contacts on one machine and 600 on another, "and both claim they're synced!" The problems started earlier this week when existing .Mac users got word via the .Mac home page that the site would be offline from evening until midnight Wednesday, as their data was moved over to the MobileMe system, AP reported. But by Thursday afternoon, people said they couldn't log on to either account.

Still, if Apple is able to reverse this bad start, MobileMe could be the killer-app, rather than the App store as many suspect. It's way less sexy, but it can be a whole lot harder to walk away from as a customer when you have one service managing your information on your PC, Mac, phone and even their TV. Apple is now doing for the consumer what Microsoft ( NSDQ: MSFT) has been doing for the corporate user for years. JupiterResearchAnalyst Michael Gartenbergsaid in an interview: "MobileMe is probably one of the most important parts of this week's announcements from Apple, but it's not as flashy as a phone or the App store. It enables consumers who don't have access to corporate exchange services to be able to sync between multiple devices and multiple screens. Whoever controls synchronization rules the world."

For $99 a year, MobileMe subscribers will be able to store 20 gigabytes of content in the cloud, which then syncs to as many computers and devices as they wish. It's compatible with not only Macs, but even PCs and Microsoft Outlook, making it fairly agnostic. In a demonstration video online, an Apple employee shows how easy it is. On the iPhone, you can add someone's picture to their contact address, and then be able to see it appear on you computer moments later. It works very much like Exchange, except that you don't need an IT department. Currently, right now, for those who don't have exchange, the alternative is to plug their phone into their computer with a cable in order to sync between phone and PC. There are two features that takes it beyond exchange. A feature called iDisk allows people to store content, like music and documents, in their MobileMe account, which would then make it accessible from any browser. The second feature allows people to connect to their MobileMe account via Apple TV and view their photos on the TV.


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