Apple's MobileMe vs. Funambol's myFUNAMBOL: An open sync?

Apple's MobileMe looks like a pale shade of what it could have been. It might, for instance, have been free and open source like Funambol's myFUNAMBOL service.

Apple introduced a successor to its .Mac product which looks interesting, though not revolutionary: MobileMe. Dubbed "Exchange for the rest of us," MobileMe offers "push e-mail, calendars, and contacts for users, keeping that information up-to-date whether they're viewing it at a computer or an iPhone."

In other words, exactly what Funambol already offers for free (as in cost and as in source code), except Apple is charging $99 per year. What a bargain!

Even worse, Apple inexplicably opted to use closed standards to offer the MobileMe service, as Fabrizio laments:

...[W]hy is Apple not using an open protocol such as SyncML? Why do they have to do everything closed? It is just too sad. Apple could be 10 times bigger but they choose not to. Everyone has its limits.

I think it comes down to control. Apple wants control. I don't understand why Apple can't have control and provide its users/partners flexibility to adapt and integrate the MobileMe service, which is what open standards (and open source) would afford, but Apple seems to want to stick to its traditional playbook: Control everything, and meter out the utility in a guarded fashion.

I'm a big Apple fan, but would have preferred syncing to remain open. It's one of those services that becomes more useful the more widely adapted and adopted it is. Apple has ensured that the MobileMe service will be useful for precisely and only what it has time and resources to do itself. That's a pity.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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