It's time for Apple to offer its MobileMe suite of Internet services for free -- and, along the way, make the experience of using it better.
In fact, offering a free version of MobileMe -- which is now $99 per year -- may be part of what's coming when Apple opens its ginormous new data center in North Carolina. Apple excels in many ways, but have a way to go to match other cloud services.
I'm not sure how many folks subscribe to MobileMe, but I doubt that Apple's making a bundle off the Internet suite. But offering it for free would be a nice enticement in luring more users to the Mac experience. After all, one big advantage is that you can use MobileMe to automatically syncs your email, contacts, and calendars over the air across all your devices. Heck, if Apple made it possible to sync iWork docs in the same way, that would also be a boon for iWork sales on the Mac OS X and iOS platforms.
There's no evidence that MobileMe has been a big success. If Apple made it free, it might bring thousands of new users to the service -- and provide a way Apple to sell other services and products.
Or Apple could offer an entry level version of MobileMe for free, and a paid-for "pro" version with other features. If Apple is really opposed to giving it away, they could offer an ad-supported version.
Whether or not Apple changes the pricing structure of MobileMe, it needs to improve the performance of the service/suite. Slow speeds, syncing problems and the inability to access MobileMe apps aren't uncommon.
One "MacRumors" (http://www.macrumors.com) reader -- frustrated by his experiences with MobileMe -- reportedly emailed Apple CEO Steve Jobs to see if the service might improve.
"I love my iPad and iPhone4 and am a huge fan of yours and all that Apple does. I desperately want to stay inside of Apple'e ecosystem as much as possible," the reader wrote. "However, MobileMe is making it very difficult for me to do so. Unreliable/unpredictable syncing, creating duplicate entries (sometimes scores of them), etc. It's almost unusable. And I know from forums (including Apple's own support boards) that I am not the only one experiencing these very real and frustrating problems."
Jobs responded, "A: Yes, it will get a lot better in 2011."
Let's hope it does. And also becomes free.
-- Dennis Sellers