Apple’s .Mac seems a challenge to Microsoft’s .Net My Services. Writes Newsfactor: “Apple’s move into Internet services will cost users US$100 per year for 15 MB of IMAP/POP mail storage and 100 MB of Internet-based storage. The storage will be built into the Mac’s OS X Finder and located on Apple’s iDisk Internet servers. In addition, subscribers will have access to a Web site creation tool, antiviral software and back-up software. ”
The article also focuses on the growing importance of calendars:
Its iCal software will let users share calendars with friends, coworkers and family.
[Steve] Jobs emphasized what he sees as the growing importance of being able to share calendar information quickly.
“Modern life fills multiple calendars,” Jobs said, and with iCal, users can see all the calendars that matter at once. “It publishes changes automatically.”
With a single button, users can post calendars automatically and drag in items from other calendars.
First, as a user, iCal hits it out of the park for me. I live in a nuclear family that fissioned, and scheduling is challenging, even though both parental nucleii use Handsprings. Palm Desktop is a very competent PIM, and I’ve used it since it was Claris 2.0. But having the ability to publish my calendar to the web, and have my ex subscribe to it, and vice versa, will make our lives much easier raising two kids who are sometimes themselves overscheduled.
What makes something like iCal such a winner is ubiquity. One can achieve ubiquity by adopting a standard that is, itself, widely adopted (I have no idea how widely adopted the iCal standard is(isn’t it “vCal?” a la “vCard”). Palm just adopted it, but I don’t think I can publish and subscribe.) Or, the solution has to be baked into the OS, as Apple has done.
From what I’ve read, iCal is a bread and butter calendar, with some useful integration with the Address Book. I suppose one can create some work-around solutions for doing more advanced sheduling things, like tracking room resources and the like by creating calendars for rooms or contacts for resources, but I think there’s still some opportunity for more sophisticated calendaring and scheduling applications to find a market. What would be nice is if they could build off of iCal’s publish and subscribe functionality. Llamasoft’s Life Balance, which I’ve used on the Newton and my Handspring, is a kind of intelligent “to-do” manager. It now has a MacOS X desktop application that might benefit from integration with iCal, iSync and the Address Book.
If iCal is proprietary, but available as an API for other developers to build on in OS X, I think it’s a win for developers and consumers. If it’s not, I think it’s still a win for consumers because nobody was addressing this issue.
Also see the rest of the discussion on Apple as Platform Vendor.
These are services we need to build as part of the Digital Dashboard.