The Focus of .Mac

Hadley Stern thinks that .Mac should be revamped. He makes some good points, but I don't think the changes would play out exactly as he envisions (I could be wrong, of course). The .Mac services are designed to be connected to Mac OS X and there are no ads. Yes, Gmail is free, but Apple isn't out to beat Gmail, at least not directly.

Creating album web pages is a pain with .Mac compared to Flickr. [...]  Want a way to quickly tag photos and make albums? Use Flickr.

I really think iPhoto makes it easier than Flickr. The web is the target, not the creation tool. Apple is, after all, in the business of making computers and software for them, not online services.

but suffice it to say Gmail’s free email offering smokes .Mac

It seems to me the .Mac web mail is designed to complement the Mail application, not replace it. Gmail is good for what it sets out to do, but I prefer the amenities of a desktop app in most cases. The .Mac web mail app could use some ajaxification, though.

First of all make .Mac free. Forever.

Free is always good in theory, at least to the person getting the free stuff. Personally, I'd rather pay $6 a month than see ads constantly. I realize not everyone feels that way, so maybe Apple could offer options.

People watch videos in YouTube, not Quicktime. We use Gmail for email, and manage our photos with Flickr.

YouTube is web site that uses a Flash-based player. Apple's business model really has nothing to do with what YouTube is doing, and the particular player used to watch the videos doesn't matter much.

iWeb is an excellent example of something that should have been web-based from the start.

Yikes. Why?

What about scripting? Data sharing? Offline use? Raw speed? A lot of this stuff that holds the experience together starts to fall apart when each app is in its own bubble.

The basic issue here is that Apple is in the business of selling computers (including the iPod, a tiny computer), operating systems and desktop software. It offers some web-based services as part of the overall package. If the web could offer a better user experience, that might change, but it's just not the case today.

Google, on the other hand, is in the business of web-based applications. To get perspective on this, compare Google's desktop apps to Apple's desktop apps. Apple's offerings blow away not only Google but pretty much anything else available.

There's nothing to stop you from using a Mac with Gmail, Flickr and YouTube. If that's what your prefer, than so be it. There are improvements Apple could make to .Mac, but their focus is simply different than Google and Yahoo.
Design Element
The Focus of .Mac
Posted Aug 17, 2006 — 10 comments below


Abhi Beckert — Aug 18, 06 1612

The whole article is a joke if you ask me. He talks about time machine using lots of disk space with large files, then goes on to say that same data should be backed up to your .Mac account? I'm not sure if I fancy the idea of uploading 300 to 4,000 mb of data every night, and I can guarantee you my ISP isn't a fan.

And that's without even taking into account the cost involved in, say, 80% of all mac users uploading large amounts of data to the same set of servers at midnight every night... From my understanding, it'd cost apple at least *one hundred million dollars* per *month* to host Time Machine over .Mac, and that's assuming they get a really good deal (which they would of course).

That estimate is based on what I've heard about the costs of running a popular video podcast BTW. It might not be accurate.

Abhi Beckert — Aug 18, 06 1613

Ehem... sorry, bad typo... More like 5 million per month.

Steve-o — Aug 18, 06 1614

Popular video podcast? Ze Frank?

And I agree that the article is a complete farce. It really doesn't do anything to indicate Hadley has given any real thought to this topic.

Mandaris — Aug 18, 06 1615

I honestly, don't get why people are so hyped over web based applications. I mean, it's great that they are accessable on every web enabled machine you go to, but it seems kind of reduntant and limiting.
For example, I use a laptop... more like, I LIVE on my laptop. If we are seperated for more then 12 hours I start breaking out in a could sweat. The thing is, sometimes I don't have access to the internet. Sometimes, I prefer not to have access to the internet. I have everything in one nice little package. I have my word processor, terminal,, etc. in one place where I can work distraction free with out the temptation. Could you do that with gmail? writey? flicker? I doubt it.
I can work on those things without the an internet connection and then upload or use those options later.

Getting back to the whole .Mac needing to be retooled. Well, I'll admit there are sometimes where I wish I could sync up faster or had more space without paying more for it. But I realize that these things aren't free and someone's got to pay for it. Although, I realize that I'm not limited to just .mac. There are a couple third party tools that allow you to sync up with computers on a local network or even use the space that google offers.

One more thing, I use BOTH a .Mac account and a (few) google account(s) an I manage them using Mail.

Sorry if my response doesn't have a definitive point. I think would be a good place to go if you wanted more information about the things I (attempted) to talk about here.

Blain — Aug 18, 06 1616

I'm not sure if I fancy the idea of uploading 300 to 4,000 mb of data every night, and I can guarantee you my ISP isn't a fan.

Not to mention the fact that running the restore means fetching, if not the files, a healthy block of metadata, especially if doing a filtered search. I do see Time Machine as a means to replace Backup, but not now, and not for everyone.

First thing would to allow for partial-file backups, to reduce bandwidth and file footprint of each version. Second would be to support CVS/SVN/other remote storage techniques, for business and development environments. Then caching the most recent files and metadata on the 'backed up' volume, to only access the backup when really necessary.

Then, only then, could .mac backup be offered (Making the $99/yr a deal for some) as a bandwidth-effective option. And only an option, because not everyone wants to store their personal information to a publicly accessible archive.

A further note about gmail and flickr: Google searches have advertised matches. Gmail has advertisement at the bottom of the email. Flickr has ads on the pages. How does Mr. Stern propose subsidizing the backups if not the .mac fee? Cost of macs? Perhaps product placement in iPhotos, and adverts appended to backed up resumes?

sebastian — Aug 19, 06 1617

sorry, i couldnt find an about page to post this comment properly.

but this is about the most unique website design i've ever seen. =)

Scott Stevenson — Aug 19, 06 1618 Scotty the Leopard

but this is about the most unique website design i've ever seen. =)

Many thanks.

Keith Duncan — Aug 20, 06 1620

I have also been thinking about .Mac recently, but not that it should be revamped, rather just improved slightly. You'll notice the data send to .mac from Apple programs is accessable and editable. As a developer currently trying to add some .mac magic into my own app i'd love it if I could add some kind of web-based frontend to the data stored on the apple severs. That way my end users wouldn't have to have a mac say at work to use the app. They could add data/records/anything into the mix that would be sync'd to their mac by the time they got home!

MatzeLoCal — Aug 20, 06 1621

What .mac or especially the .mac-Homepages are really lacking is some kind of WO-modules or at least php.
Apple wants developers to use .mac in their applications and all we have is putting files up there.
I currently have an Application in mind, that would perfectly could use .mac if only there would be some kind of WO/php i.e. writing into a database or at least create some files.... even working mail-forms would be great.
I like the design and header of this blog. Very academic.


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