Wednesday, June 1, 2011

iCloud vs. Google Apps

It's absolutely ridiculous to start comparing an unannounced product that is only rumored with an existing product, right? As of today, the only thing that we know from Apple is that they will be announcing a new 'cloud' service called iCloud this coming Monday at the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC).

Rumors of the specifics of this service have been flying all around the Interweb with theories on what Apple has been working on. Many believe that iCloud with ultimately replace MobileMe as a web service. These services, as of now, are:

  • Mail
  • Calendar
  • Address Book
  • Find My iPhone
  • Gallery (photos)
  • iDisk
It has been a long time since I was a MobileMe user. I actually have never been a paying customer, having only signed up for the initial trial when it was first released and experienced all of the infamous problems with performance, stability and usability. At the time I was a Google Apps user and was hoping that the new service would justify moving from a free service that I was happy with to a paid service ($99/year). It was a fairly easy decision to continue using Google Apps after only a few days of usage.

Apple realized fairly quickly that they had a dud on their hands and later offered to extend their free trial hoping that they could fix some of the failings that were discovered after its release. I went back to it a few times always hoping that I would see some reason for me to like it but it just never felt like a finished product. It didn't create the lust factor that so many of their other products did.

So Apple certainly has its work cut out for itself when it comes to winning me over as a customer. Over the years I have become even more ingrained into the Google ecosystem. I'm currently using Google Apps for Domains which means that I use my own domain name that I purchased. No 'me.com' domain for me. I have a domain name that I own and will follow me for as long as I pay the trivial $10/year fee to Godaddy.com.

Mail on Google can act as an Exchange Server which means that I get push notification of all my mail. It has been very reliable (and fast). On my Mac at home I no longer use the built in Mail application. The web interface is so well done and, in my opinion, more efficient that I use it exclusively to access my mail.

The Google Calendar also has a very nice web interface that I usually just access the website to view/edit my calendar. With Google Apps for Domain, I'm also able to create multiple account so I now have an account for each member of my family. They are able to enter in events using their account (okay, the 7 and 9 year old may need a little help) and then they show up on the master calendar color coded for each user. And just like Google Mail, Google Calendar is always up to date. My wife can add a calendar event on her computer or iPhone, and only a minute later, I can open up my calendar and I will see the changes that she has made.

Google Contacts basically works the same. Our family shares that same address book and any changes that are done are distributed to everyone. My wife enters the name and phone number of our new doctor and the contacts are all synced over the air within minutes. No action is required on my part. It just happens.

I could go on (and I may later in a future blog entry) but this should give you an idea of the upward battle that Apple has in 'selling' their new service to me. As always, I am hopeful that Apple does have something up its sleeve that will really wow me but if the past is any indication, Monday could be just another disappointment.

One of the things that made me hopeful was an article entitled "What It's Like When Steve Jobs Chews You Out For A Product Failure". At least I know that Jobs was just as unhappy (if not more so) as I was about the current state of MobileMe. As far as price and functionality is concerned, Google is way ahead. In one week we'll get to see what 2 years of 'back to the drawing board' provides.