Five Reasons to Abandon MobileMe (or Avoid It in the First Place)

1. Constant downtime
Apple’s MobileMe service seems to be down more often than its up. I know that this is just an illusion, and that Apple could easily provide statistics to disprove it as a valid fact, but the reality is undeniable: downtime has been a major problem for MobileMe since its launch and continues to be a problem to this day. Don’t believe me? Do a Google search on MobileMe downtime and read through any of the over 34,000 search results.

2. Glacially slow web interface
When Apple can be bothered to keep MobileMe online, the Web interface of the application is so sluggish that it’s practically unusable. Five to ten seconds to load the login screen, five to ten more to load my inbox, and five to ten after that if I want to switch folders. That’s acceptable? In what universe is this okay? This is a product that Phil Schiller promised us at WWDC was going to be just like using a desktop application. Thirty seconds to get to my archived items folder is not what I’ve come to expect from my desktop e-mail app, Phil. And it’s even worse than what I’ve come to expect from other Webmail applications.

Apple’s advertising copy for the Web interface of MobileMe reads like this:

Access and manage your email, contacts, calendar, photos, and files at me.com. All with feature-rich web apps so easy to use, you might prefer them to your desktop applications.

Seriously, they need to stop advertising this part of the service in the same way that they stopped advertising MobileMe as a truly “push” e-mail service. That description just is not accurate.

3. Push e-mail annoying rather than helpful
MobileMe’s “push” e-mail service doesn’t actually push to the desktop as it was supposed to, but it does work as advertised on the iPhone. And that, my friends, has been part of my problem with it. Early on, Apple advertised MobileMe as “Exchange for the rest of us”. The goal was to provide to Apple fanatics the same crack that CrackBerry users were already hooked on: always-on, instant e-mail. But the truth is that “the rest of us” don’t really need push e-mail, and that it’s kind of more trouble than it’s worth.

Every time my iPhone buzzes to announce the arrival of a new message, I feel compelled to check it. This is a huge problem. Most of the personal e-mail I get is BACN, if not outright SPAM. And of the e-mail that isn’t BACN or SPAM, there’s not much that requires immediate action. There’s no reason that I couldn’t be checking my personal e-mail once an hour, or even once or twice a day. I’m a big believer in the Inbox Zero philosophy at work, and in Getting Things Done, and all that. At work, I have Outlook set to check for new messages once an hour. And I’ve been immensely more productive since making that change. MobileMe seduced me into thinking that push e-mail would be a good idea, but it really isn’t, and I should have known better.

4. Lack of community
MobileMe’s Gallery feature is pretty slick, but there’s no community built up around it, and it doesn’t really seem to be designed with community in mind for the future. I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed the Flickr community since moving to doing photos exclusively on MobileMe. It’s just not as much fun. I didn’t get a lot of comments on my photos at Flickr, but I did get some, so there was always the chance that a photo there might spark a conversation. Over at MobileMe gallery, I feel like I’m posting in a vacuum. And while that might be okay for some people, it’s just not the best option for someone who’s social.

5. Cost prohibitive
MobileMe should be free. There, I said it. All of its features, aside from the quick and easy synchronization of iPhones, PCs, and Macs, are available elsewhere on ad-supported or relatively cheap-to-use Websites. There is no reason that Apple should be charging for this, and they certainly aren’t making a good case for why it should be paid with the undeniably bad service they’ve provided so far.