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Apple Has No Business Charging for MobileMe

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(Techwriter10)
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Not everything Apple touches turns to gold, a case in point is the .mac service which has recently been rebranded with not terribly clever moniker: MobileMe. What Apple fails to understand from the get-go is that people expect their cloud services to be free or at least extremely cheap and $99 per year (you can’t fool people by not making it an even hundred, by the way) is simply too much to charge.

If you look at most cloud services, they are free. Google offers almost all its consumers services free of charge in exchange for viewing text ads—no such thing as a free lunch—but most people are willing to make that trade-off. As a consumer, let’s say I own a Mac Book Pro and an iPhone, a scenario that will likely be true when I buy an iPhone next month. I would think that for what I have paid for these devices, Apple would be give me syncing services out of the box for free as a service for being a loyal customer. It should go without saying, but instead, Apple wants to bleed its loyal clientèle for a few more (meaningless) dollars.

To Apple’s credit, they have increased the amount of online disk storage substantially to 20 GB from the meaningless couple of gigs they offered with .mac, but a better approach than charging for 20 GB might be a tiered service structure starting with a free set of basic services including syncing and 5GB of disk space, then increasing in modest incremental charges for 10 GB, 25 GB, 50 GB and 100 GB of online storage. This would make more sense to me than charging for the base set of services from the start.

This is actually the approach that Adobe is taking with its recently launched Acrobat.com. You get some basic services for free including a free word processor (the recently purchased BuzzWord), five free pdf conversions, Adobe Connect Now meeting services for up to three people and 5GB of storage space. They only begin charging when you surpass any of these thresholds. Apple could learn from this model.

Interestingly enough, open source is already rushing to fill the need for free services. One such company, according to this TechCrunch article, is Funambol, a company that has used the Apple iPhone development platform to create a free service that does just about everything the MobileMe syncing services do without the price tag. The article reports it doesn’t synch files and photos, two fairly large missing pieces, but since it’s open source, chances are some resourceful people somewhere will put this together and MobileMe syncing will become a meaningless service nobody but the grossly uniformed purchase, or Apple may be forced to change to a tiered pricing model similar to the one I described earlier.

Apple should know its biggest asset is its customers' loyalty. It should be rewarding that loyalty, not trying to gouge a few more dollars from them. That just doesn’t make good business sense and I don’t need to spend a $100 a year for the convenience of auto-syncing when there are similar free services popping up all over the place.

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Techwriter10
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Little typo in the title. Misspelled MobileMe, but it's fixed now. Must remember to check the title carefully before publishing.

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linux
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What do you mean "Apple has no business charging for MobileMe"? They made it, they can charge whatever the heck they want for it. And if people want to pay for it, what's the big deal? As long as people pay, Apple will charge. It's as simple as that.

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Techwriter10
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It's a play on words, linux. You are taking it literally, but you could see it as meaning it doesn't make good business sense to charge for MobileMe.

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linux
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It makes perfectly good business, because people are WILLING to pay. Think, Apple fanboys will pay for anything Apple.

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Techwriter10
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You're not getting my point--no business as in they won't be getting any business. Fact is .mac did not do very well. My guess is people will look for free or lower-cost services before forking over another $100 to Apple and these alternative services exist already. Your Apple fan boys don't even have to look very hard. Faced with that, I don't see Apple doing very well this. In other words, they will have no business with MobileMe. :)

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linux
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I guess I understand, but there are people out there that are willing to pay anything for an Apple product -- believe me, come look at the rest of my family.

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Techwriter10
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I'm writing this on a Mac Book Pro myself, but I'm not blindly buying a product just because it has the Apple label on it, and this product to me is just not a good value.

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linux
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I wish I could afford a MacBook, but do I care if I don't own an Apple product -- no.

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Techwriter10
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You should only buy a product if it's good, not because it's popular, but I've honestly found that this is the best computer I've ever owned and I would buy another one in a heart beat.

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OlyComputers
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As a consumer, I wouldn't pay for this service.

As a businessman, I would have tacked it on to the (already overpriced) iphone data plan. Simple marketing is that people will get more excited about an included service than an add-on, and with the price as high as it is already they could have gotten away with tacking on an additional $5/month to EVERY iphone data plan and make a lot more money than the $99/year mobile me due to sheer volume. It would be a great marketing hook and probably even move more iphones off the shelf (not that they're just sitting there now).

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Techpriest
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I subscribe to MobileMe. My MacBook at home, my iPod Touch (no ATT service in my area so no iPhone) and my iBook at work all synch without my attention. MobileMe takes care of synching my mail, contacts, notes, appointments, to do lists and files as well as making them available online in one place.

My time has value, and I will gladly pay $8.25 a month for one service that takes care of keeping all my devices on the same page and give me access to the info on the web without me having to remember to click something before I leave a location.

The service is not perfect. To Do does not synch with my Touch, and I have had mixed success getting MobileMe to work on a PC. Notes do not synch on my Touch until I plug it into my MacBook. But until something better comes along I will keep renewing my subscription.

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bennn
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Everybody has a skewed perception of how much technology infrastructure costs now because of google.
It seems like everybody has the argument "because google is free and has the same features apple must be overcharging"
but this is not valid argument.

The truth is, technology is expensive. And i am extremely surprised apple can offer mobileme as cheap as they do.
The only reason google is free is because google is datamining your information.
With google you aren't getting a "Free" service. With google YOU ARE the product.
I don't know about you, but I'm going to steer clear of "Free" services.

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