What Would Make Me Sign up for .Mac?

Dot MacUsers of .mac have been crying out for a serious overhaul for some time. While the introduction of Leopard and iPhone have brought tweaks, and a slight bump in storage space, it still doesn’t seem to be fulfilling it’s potential. With Google seemingly planning to announce the gDrive (an online storage solution that’s been available internally to Google employees for some time) it looks as if competition is rife.

I’ve looked at .Mac a few times since becoming an Apple user, but I’ve never really been convinced that I want, or need, it. So what would it take to push me towards .mac? Maybe it’s embracing the competition.


Google made such a huge impact with Gmail largely because of the unheard of (at the time) storage space. At the time, Google suggested that they could ramp up storage so cheaply it was nigh on insignificant. In the market at the moment, the vast majority of free plans only offer a gigabyte or two of storage. I’d expect Google to eclipse that and at least match .mac’s ten on it’s entry level (read: free) plan.

The access to this storage is interesting, and key. Having online storage is only convenient if it’s easy to get to the files stored. box.net offers a WebDav service which allows you to mount your box.net space as a local drive. .mac allows for a similar thing. This mounting of a drive is crucial when it comes to online storage and, for me at least, is a make or break feature. There a couple of ways you can approach the local access. While maintaining a live link to the online storage space is a no brainer, you have to consider the situations where you aren’t connected to the internet. For circumstances like that, some vendors store a local copy of files that are re-synchronised when you next connect to the service.

For .Mac to become a viable option the storage has to be fast, plentiful and easily accessible. I want mounted disk access, web access, ftp access and windows access. I’d also like segmented areas for document storage and backups.


Once again, Google has lead the way in this area. When you see how easy it is to use, access, share and collaborate on documents using Google Docs, which is free, you’d expect some form of competition from Apple. This should be especially true considering Apple has a track record of producing office applications, noteably in iWork, where Google came into the market afresh. In some ways, this gives Apple an advantage. Providing an interface to the .Mac storage space through iWork, and then allowing documents stored there to be viewed through a web browser seems obvious. Considering Google’s implementation, it shouldn’t be too far a stretch to allow documents also to be created and edited through a browser.

Seeing as we’ve seen integration between Google and Apple before (Google Maps on the iPhone) so why not use the excellent Google Docs to manage documents stored on .Mac?


The new iPhoto focused features are, without doubt, great. But why stop at photos? I’d love to be able to store my entire music library, video library and Garage Band compositions on .mac. Sharing isn’t really viable, due to copyright restrictions (I’m not that naive) but giving me access to this content online, in a rich environment, would be a good start.

Better Web Hosting

For many users, the .Mac hosting is all they need. You create pages, and a site using iWeb and then, with just one click, publish it to the internet. And with the recent .Mac update, users can host content on their own domains, not just a sub domain of www.mac.com.

Apple iWeb and .Mac hostingFor me though, this isn’t enough. Yes, I could put up a blog using the iWeb/.Mac combination, but the functionality it provides is really limiting. You couldn’t run a successful blog using the platform. The main drawback is the lack of interactivity available to site users. Comments, trackbacks and tracking, all missing. Also missing is the ability to host any of your own server-side scripts. Things like CGI, PHP and ASP. There isn’t even a database.

I’ve got to be carefull here. I don’t think .Mac hosting could replace the service I currently enjoy from my hosting provider. They do hosting, only hosting, and do it very well. What I would like is a backup area, where, if the worse came to the worse, I could temporarily house my blog or other sites. For this I’d need “proper” hosting, with a database and scripting support. Although, out of all the things on this list, I’d put this as the lowest priority and I can totally understand why Apple doesn’t provide it.

The Big One

It’s time to confess. Even if Apple provided all the above features, implemented perfectly, I still wouldn’t become a .Mac customer. Why? The Price. At the moment the “Basic” package is £69. It’s just not worth it. How can a service like .Mac, especially in it’s current guise, cost MORE than something like iWork? And even more baffling, it’s only £16 cheaper than Leopard.

Considering we already pay a premium for Apple products, it would be nice to get something like .Mac for free. An incentive. This is especially true for those who pay the Apple Tax multiple times through multiple devices and services, like a Mac, iPhone, iPods and iTunes.

So who’s right? Google says services such as these are practically free to provide while Apple want to charge you almost as much, on a yearly basis, as their flagship product, the OS Leopard. Which side of the fence do you sit on?