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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.

Matt Asay Contributing Writer
Matt Asay is a veteran technology columnist who has written for CNET, ReadWrite, and other tech media. Asay has also held a variety of executive roles with leading mobile and big data software companies.
Matt Asay

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.