MobileMe: to renew or not to renew

mobileme logo.pngI’ve had a MobileMe account for the last year and a half (pretty much since MobileMe launched as the .Mac replacment) and the time has come to renew it. I was initially going to renew my subscription (€65 or around R730 for the year) and I wonder now if I should.

Mobileme subscription expired.png

The main appeal MobileMe has had for me is the ability to sync my contacts and calendars with a cloud-based service that comes pretty close to my MacBook experience. I initially used the photo and video sharing service and stopped that in favour of my long-standing Flickr account, Vimeo and Facebook (although I prefer keeping Flickr and Vimeo as my primary photo and video sharing services rather than Facebook). I was briefly tempted to can my Flickr Pro account but quickly realised it is a far better photo sharing service than MobileMe is.

MobileMe objects.png

I started using iDisk to backup my data (the 20GB allocation on MobileMe is quite a bit) and although it proved to be a bit of a pain to backup to the service (connections kept dropping), it was reasonably effective as a way to gain access to key files online. I started exploring Jungle Disk and decided to use that as a primary cloud-based backup service and because it runs on Amazon S3 (I’ve linked it to my S3 account) it costs me about $2 a month for the basic service plus my data usage at about $0.15/GB stored and $0.10/GB uploaded). I currently have about 18GB backed up and intend backing up a fair amount more than that going forward. A total backup would cover about 190GB at the moment.

I have also started using Dropbox for smaller file transfers and backups and the free account I am using comes with 2GB of storage. Dropbox is pretty competitive when it comes to larger amounts stored compared to Jungle Disk. The 50GB service costs about $10/month and a similar amount uploaded and stored would work out to about $12.50 just to get the data up to S3. You still add the basic $2 fee to that for Jungle Disk. Of course once the data has been transferred the monthly cost drops to about $7/50GB which isn’t too bad. A total backup of pretty much all my media and documents would probably cost me just under $20 a month to store using Jungle Disk (not counting the initial transfer cost).

Now when it comes to my calendars and email, I use a combination of Gmail and Google Apps accounts and keep my Mac synchronized using Snow Leopard’s Exchange support. The only downside here is that I can only keep one contacts list sync’d at a time online and on my N97. I don’t see how to keep multiple Google contacts lists sync’d using my MacBook’s address book. I run my email using IMAP so my email accounts are sync’d between my phone, the Web and my MacBook.

Ok, so putting all that into some sort of perspective, here are the options I am using:

Cloud comparison.png

Of course the chart is simplified. Dropbox and Jungle Disk can also serve as photo and video storage services (and do). Dropbox could also theoretically serve as a photo and video sharing service too but there are better tools. I also haven’t mentioned other media sharing services like Picasa, Zoopy, and others. I just prefer using Flickr and Vimeo at the moment for what they do.

Now, if I don’t renew my MobileMe subscription I lose iDisk (and along with the option of retrieving stuff stored there via a planned iPod Touch or possibly a future iPhone); the calendar and contacts synchronization that so closely parallels my desktop experience and the generally excellent level of Mac integration. I also save myself the €65 cost. I just wonder if I am being penny wise, pound foolish by dropping MobileMe.

What do you think?

Update: When it came down to crunch time I decided to renew my subscription. I am a little ambivalent about my choice but a couple considerations tipped me over the edge:

  • The prospect of losing my username and having to come up with yet another one – I am trying to be as consistent as possible with account usernames for various reasons;
  • MobileMe may well feature a little more prominently in my future when I upgrade either to an iPod Touch or to an iPhone (jury still out on this one although I am tending towards an Android phone one day) so it makes sense to keep the account; and
  • While not a key issue, MobileMe-Mac integration is brilliant and not to be taken too lightly if there are other reasons to hang on to the account.

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