How's .Mac Looking Now?

by Bruce Stewart

We've done a lot of grousing about Apple's .Mac service here over the past couple of years, so I was happy to hear yesterday that it's getting a long-deserved update. The new .Mac service now includes a fairly slick web photo gallery, which integrates nicely with the iTunes and the iPhone, an increase in the storage limit to 10 GB, and finally offers server-side spam filtering on .Mac email accounts. And the price didn't change, it's still $99.95/year.

It sounds much improved and the Web Gallery stuff does look cool, but I still find myself not rushing back to .Mac. I'm curious, what do others think about the .Mac update? Has it got you signing up for the service or feeling better about your ongoing investment? Or were you hoping for more? (I know this wasn't what Chris was hoping for, sorry buddy!)

31 Comments

Ian York
2007-08-08 19:59:35
what do others think about the .Mac update?


Too little, too late. The upgrade brings .Mac to about the place it should have been a year ago, but the world moves on. It's a lot closer to a reasonable deal now, but still not there. I'd consider it at half the price, or if there was another killer app.

Greg Smith
2007-08-08 20:24:56
It's a step in the right direction. Hope they dont take several years to make the next improvement.
Randy Smith
2007-08-08 20:54:19
While I will keep dotmac around when it come time to renew I am not really knocked out by the new features. I keep dotmac around for keeping my laptop and desktop synced and safe and it has saved my bacon more than once. While the 10gig was a nice boost dotmac has never be known for its fantastic speed. The App "dragster" helps but not a whole lot. Apple made a big selling point about dotmac dashboard widgets when tiger was released but they still have never shown up. It seems like Automator and dotmac were made for each other but Apple includes almost nothing to make dotmac easier via Automator. The freebies they had years ago have long since gone and it seems like one person runs dotmac...... A person who got on Steves bad side! As much as Apple touts dotmac when iLife is updated it seems a true dotmac upgrade is years overdue. I will renew but if I find anything that comes close to doing what I want and is easy to do, maybe google, I will be gone and I don't think I will be missing anything. Apple is asking for feedback on dotmac so people should tell them what they want. I send them feedback about every two months about dotmac when I get pissed about it. The squeaky wheel will get the grease.
Frank
2007-08-08 21:13:15
Is the ability for it to host your own domain new or did I just overlook it before? That's a pretty nice feature.
Romain Guy
2007-08-08 21:46:55
10 GB of IMAP email? That's all I need. I was already very happy with 1 GB for IMAP.
Gary S
2007-08-08 22:26:22
The additional space,dns ability,and gallery are all very nice. I agree with others that this should have been done a year ago. My main use of .Mac remains the sync abilities which are a Godsend, but the gallery has me very intrigued again. If they would make available a "pro" gallery option with an integrated shopping cart, I'd be all over it to sell some of my prints. But it's a nice evolution and I look forward to checking out iLife '08. I'm a bit disappointed that you still can't have a shared calendar where multiple users can add/edit events. The groups area needs some love to make it worthwhile. I may be in the minority, but I think for what you get, $100/yr. is a worthwhile investment even with the shortcomings.
Zac
2007-08-08 23:07:54
With 10GB of storage it finally has a real meaty feature you can point to, and say here, this is what I am dropping $100 for. The Web Galleries are very slick, and dns is one of those "it's about time" type features.


That said, none of these really affect the core reasons why I have been and continue to use .Mac. An easy (i.e. FAST, I'm not made out of time people) way to establish a professional looking presence online, in addition to a very nice email, grand syncing features, and backup solution. I am a geek, and I could do these things for less money and with mostly better results elsewhere, but it would take time time time, and I have more important things in my life these days.

joe in oklahoma
2007-08-08 23:30:15
i will be letting my .mac acct expire.
i like the email and the sync but i don't think the email is worth $100.
not until they improve it.
and it seems all the new additions and updates only strengthen their in house apps, and from what i hear, don't connect well with online or open source products. in other words, it is great if all you plan on using is an apple app. has apple not heard of web2?


i am more and more convinced that open source apps are going to be leading the way.

Jamie
2007-08-08 23:50:39
I recently removed my renewal information from my .Mac account and these changes won't make me rethink that decision. I can find my email using search in Gmail faster than I can with .Mac mail. With Flickr and other free photo sharing alternatives there's little incentive to drop this much money into .Mac. I've started using Mozy for backups. I've lost data off my iDisk before and Apple was no help in recovering it. I'm not comfortable using my iDisk as a backup location as a result.


I've been a member since it was iTools, but once October rolls around that's the end of my membership.

pauldwaite
2007-08-09 01:03:27
Meh. No significant extra utility, and still the same price. When you've got Flickr & co. and YouTube & co. out there for free, it's hard to see the point of $99 per year.
Marty
2007-08-09 02:33:01
@joe


"i like the email and the sync but i don't think the email is worth $100.
not until they improve it."


You want them to "improve" the email. So where else can you can get mail that is:


(a) IMAP
(b) Over SSL
(c) with up to 10GB storage
(d) filtered for spam server-side
(e) not data-mined (as with GMail, etc.)


for less than $100 a year? Do tell me, because I'm darned if I know where. AFAICT, about all that's lacking that anyone might want is IMAP-idle. But presumably they'd have to replace/rebuild the servers to get that.


And, of course, you get all the other services with the email as well - iDisk synching, webspace, etc.


I'm *not* actually a .mac user. I'm not so flush with spare cash I want to commit that much every year to what I can do without, but I fail to see how it's bad value for what it offers - since it is not ad-supported, it is going to cost. And I really don't know what "improving" the email would mean.

jeff
2007-08-09 03:14:14
is there any new feature in the Webmail app? create/reply with HTML (not plain text), ability to create groups to send email to (i know of workaround such as using some of the description field of Contact detail) etc..
Kyle Johnson
2007-08-09 03:45:14
I have succumbed to the Reality Distortion Field. I'm thinking about getting iLife '08 and .Mac so I can finally setup a website for the wife and I and have a place that we can show off photos. We have Flickr, but it just isn't as pretty or easy to use as this looks.
Simon Hibbs
2007-08-09 05:30:48
@Marty:
(a) IMAP
Totaly redundant if you use webmail.
(b) Over SSL
https://www.mail.google.com
(c) with up to 10GB storage
Fair enough, but then I have 2 gmail accounts, one for job hunting. More are just a few clicks away.
(d) filtered for spam server-side
Does anybody not do this nowadays?
(e) not data-mined (as with GMail, etc.)
Put up or shut up, show me evidence of data mining. Spam filtering not only parses your email, but even decides which messages you get to see. How come that's acceptable, but some automated UI finessing at display-time isn't? Total bullshit.


Web space - Googlepages.


The only thing I can find that's remotely special is synching.

Vombie
2007-08-09 06:46:25
I've kept it around for the e-mail aliases, the backup app, the synching, and the one-touch uploading of pics from iPhoto. Not so much the iDisk or freebies, but the iDisk does have some niceties. I could always make Web pages myself, but for simple things like a quickie event, I like the idea of pressing a button to plop in the Google Map, and just being done. Quite frankly, I also really like the Ad-Sense integration. You could make back your annual fee from that...
Rob
2007-08-09 06:56:56
I have had the service since its inception and it was called iTools. I plan on keeping it I guess. I think the new add-ons are pretty good. I would really like to see more integration with iPhone (even though I don't have one yet), better blogging features, and more web page building features.
Greg Sterling
2007-08-09 08:07:00
10GB nice for storage/backups (finally)... For $99.95 though, I'd really expect at least 20GB. Gotta start somewhere for an improvement. The two features I think are most important though are web calendar access, and iPhone sync through the web. I don't want to have to be tethered to sync all the time.
Kevin S.
2007-08-09 08:07:44
With my blog on WordPress.com, my email spread out over Gmail and Fastmail, my photos on Flickr, my videos on YouTube and storage on Box.net, there is just too little incentive for me to go back.


"Oh, but they're all in one place."


I find that it's no harder to click on bookmarks for Gmail, Flickr, etc. than hyperlinks from a .Mac account.

Snuffy
2007-08-09 08:12:16
I've squawked about the price for sync for a long time as well.. and tried (mark/space sync together) that was a waist of money.. it doesn't sync everything and doesn't run as a daemon, then the corruption. so for the proper bacon saving sync it's worth the $99 but with 10 gig and some other little tweaked features.. I feel better about the money. I'm renewing.
Olivier
2007-08-09 08:28:26
I personaly use Plaxo for contact/calendar sharing, the yahoo toolbar for bookmarks sharing.
I also have my own place on a server that I mount using WebDAV. It offers a http service which is not as simple to use as .Mac; but good enough. iBackup does a great job and it's free. Email is stored on a iMap server.


.Mac is useless ; it's not too much about the price (I really think they should charge 1/2), but rather the security. Have you ever wondered what apple does with the stuff you store on their servers ?

John
2007-08-09 09:37:29
Well I came to the mac about 3 years ago and for the first time I plunked down some cash for .mac


For me the big thing was the syncing of movies & photos -- While I use flickr & youtube I was really interested in a solution that let me control the content better (and in the case of movies include higher quality versions)


Finally, I have been struggling with keeping two macs in sync and hope the .mac syncing will solve a large part of this problem.


we'll see....

Jay Elmore
2007-08-09 11:44:53
What bothers me is that the services that I really want -- bookmark syncing, Address Book syncing, Calendar syncing, keychain syncing, are you seeing a pattern? -- are bundled with a lot of services I will have little to no use for. And .mac is an all-or-nothing plan.


It would be ridiculous to plunk down $99/year for just those services.


If it was $19/year? I'd have my credit card out faster than you can blink.
If it was $29/year? I'd wince a little bit but I'd do it.

Billy
2007-08-10 01:12:15
Um, in my opinion, the only grabbing feature would be the sync'ing. Are there not other trustworthy services around which can sync data for cheaper (or free)? If not, this is definitely a possible business idea for someone. The $10/year alternative (or $5 a year, sycning only, no backup). Contact me if this sounds like a plan :)
Stephen Goodenough
2007-08-10 02:15:22
My major use for .Mac has been synchronising my MacBook and iMac and also using it as a place to store files that I tend to need and update from both systems. I don't use the e-mail heavily because I have lots of other e-mail accounts (including large IMAP). I have used it for posting photos to share with friends and the increase in size and the new iLife gallery features will mean I can post full resolution so friends can make their own prints rather than come back to me for the originals.


I've recently renewed and so don't have to make the next renewal decision for some months. I guess I'll stick with it - largely for the convenience, although the value for money is getting a lot better.

Chris Adamson
2007-08-10 08:38:21

You're right that it's not what I was hoping for: it still exists, it still costs too much, it still does too little, and iLife is still deliberately crippled in order to prop up .Mac. Every install of Mac OS X has a perfectly capable Apache web server up and running at first boot, yet the iLife apps want me to do all my sharing and sync'ing through this flaky, $100/year service.

Considering how many of these services are available free and better (GMail) or feasible with your own Macs (imagine an iSync that sync'ed your MacBook and MacPro via Bonjour), it's remarkable how Apple is willing to subvert Mac OS X and iLife's functionality just to prop up .Mac. The tail is wagging the dogcow on this one.

Ryan
2007-08-10 11:36:41
If anyone is just looking for a good email service, I'd recommend www.fastmail.fm, which offers varying service levels from free to $40/year, quite a few domains to choose from (or use your own with the Enchanced level), up to 2 GB of email storage, SSL IMAP email, one of the best webmail clients I've seen (it's not pretty but it's fast and efficient), spam and virus filtering, up to 30 aliases, and no advertising on the paid service levels. In the 4 or 5 years I've used them, they've had only 1 major outage, and the reliability has improved over time.
Andy Barreras
2007-08-11 00:21:01
Better features but still way too much money. I don't see how Apple's marketing guys have come to the place where they are.
Billy
2007-08-11 23:33:45
I've just found iCal Exchange in the current edition of MacFormat. For those using .mac mainly for calendar sharing, you might wanna check this out. http://www.icalx.com
Also, its free.
Mike
2007-08-12 07:20:00
I just recently discovered that AOL/AIM offers FREE unlimited storage IMAP and/or POP. Web mail doesn't make IMAP redundant if you're using an iPhone and want to use the mail client which is much nicer then having to use the safari client on the small screen. IMAP lets you sync everything nicely between machines.


Shawn
2007-08-13 10:31:14
I will happilly pay the $99/yr for the privacy that .Mac gives me. G-mail, and all google apps, are horrible in their terms and give google rights to all your content. That's a huge deal-breaker for me.
Phil
2007-11-20 11:48:31
Who wants to pay 99.95/year just to sync your software. Isn't there a way to sync with out .Mac


What a scam.