At the WWDC on Monday, Apple announced the next evolution of its .Mac service, MobileMe. A cloud storage solution that handles e-mail, calendar items, contacts, photos, and other documents, it will arguably compete with Microsoft's Live Mesh, as well as several other data synchronization start-ups like SugarSync (download).
MobileMe will replace Apple's consumer Web site service, .Mac, and adds to that service additional storage (.Mac's 10GB gos to MobileMe's 20GB), plus support for the new iPhone and for Windows PCs.
The big pitch for the new service is its synchronization capabilities. E-mail to your MobileMe account will be pushed to your phone. Photos you take on your phone can be automatically uploaded to your Web-based MobileMe account and shared with your friends.
The concept is that the iPhone becomes just one way to view your data and your community. If you're in front of a full-screen Web browser or sitting at your Mac or Windows desktop, you might prefer to use one of those larger interfaces instead, but with MobileMe, everything you do will be updated to your iPhone immediately.
The service is being pitched as "Exchange for the rest of us," referencing Microsoft's corporate e-mail solution that offers excellent shared calendar features and e-mail and contact sync across devices and the Web. These are features everyone deserves, and Microsoft has been late, to say the least, at offering this kind of service to consumers.
There's no indication that MobileMe will be open to developers, although we assume not. It was launched at Apple's developers' conference and if it were open we would have heard it there.
Apple's current .Mac accounts will upgraded to MobileMe automatically when the service becomes available in July. A 60-day free trial will be available. The service will cost $99 a year after that from Apple. It looks like you can sign up for .Mac on Amazon.com right now for $69, though, and get the auto-upgrade in a month. Might be worth a shot if you want to save $30.
Update: Apple has posted a Guided Tour of MobileMe.