iPhone 3G Overshadows MobileMe SaaS

Everyone was so hyped up about the iPhone 3G and 2.0 software updates this week, Apple's new online SaaS service MobileMe was lost in the fray. MobileMe, Apple's replacement to .MAC, that offers a bundling of data synchronization and online storage SaaS type services. I've been wondering when Apple would make some type of a move into cloud and SaaS services and MobileMe is clearly their first big step. (See my previous blog post Apple Amazingly Silent About SaaS.)

Much like every other Apple product, MobileMe is a consumer offering with some enterprise-like features. MobileMe synchronizes email, contacts, calendars, photo gallery pictures between Macs, iPhones and PCs. The cloud portion of the service stores the all this data and makes it available through online web apps. The added kicker is iDisk, which is for online file storage, accessible from Macs and PCs.

Apple describes MobileMe as Exchange for the rest of us. But think of MobileMe this way. Combine Outlook Web Access, Active Sync, Live Mesh (it's not clear if MobileMe iDisk has synchronization though), Windows Live Gallery, and Office Workspace Live, all for Macs, PCs and iPhones, and you've got MobileMe. It's a a very ambitious offering, and one that if pulled off well, is basically what Microsoft is aiming to do with Office Workspace, and Google with Google Apps, and more.

One big difference, it's not free. Apple's charging $99 per year for the service. I see MobileMe as Apple's way of helping Macs live an easier life in the corporate world of Exchange and PCs. Let your PC at work connect to the Exchange server. Just sign up for MobileMe and now all that corporate email and contacts on your Windows XP or Vista machine can be shared with your iPhone and Macs at home or at work.

I think Apple has a very well put together offering with MobileMe. It's not clear it will be of interest to anyone but Mac users, but that's likely who Apple wants to help anyway. If there's any question about whether this is a business or consumer offering, just look at the branding. I guess Apple is switching branding from the i-products to the me-products. Will that make similar offerings from competitors me-too products? lol.

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