Apple's new MobileMe service sounds just like an idea I wrote about five years ago. I Twittered about this the other day when I first saw the leak... I had called the idea "dotMob" and said, explicitly, it would be "a mobile copy of Apple's .Mac online service." It described many of the services that made it into MobileMe - stuff that I called "mDisk" and "mPhoto", PIM functionaltiy with syncing, and Email are spelled out in the list I included in my post. This doesn't mean I'm a genius or anything... like I said, I simply wanted a mobile version of dotMac for smart phones. Apple came up with the idea first, I just adapted it.
What amazes me is that it took FIVE YEARS for it to actually happen. It makes it so I can't even gloat (though, obviously I'm trying). I mean, Christ, does a prediction even COUNT if it takes five years to come true? I could say, "Someday we'll land on Mars," well yeah - no kidding.
Isn't there an axiom about technology that the closer you get to a certain technology, the faster it moves, but the farther away you are the slower it arrives? So something that seems just a couple years away will take five, but something that seems just a year away arrives in months, and is the new standard before you know it. Well, if there isn't a rule of thumb like that there should be.
So now this stuff has arrived - but not really for everyone yet: Apple is doing it for their platform, and Microsoft is doing something similar with Mesh.com for theirs, but the real question in my mind is whether there will be a real business there (rather than just a supportive service) so that a third party can do the same for everyone else. There's going to be an awful lot of "secondary OS" devices out there - like Linux based Netbooks and Symbian based smart phones - that could use a cloud-based syncing services as well.
How long before we seen an "OpenMe" or "OpenMesh" style service launched? (Please not another five years!) A company like Funambol with its expertise in email and syncing could probably jump start it tomorrow if they wanted. Though again, it depends on whether Apple and Microsoft are meeting real needs with these services. Maybe this sort of cloud computing style service just looks good on paper - or maybe it's a really huge opportunity.
Time will tell I guess. I mean, hell, in five years we should definitely know for sure.
Side note: You know, something interesting about today's Apple announcements is that everything had been leaked beforehand. The images of the phone, the specs, the price and the MobileMe service all were known beforehand... The problem of course is all the fake news muddying up the waters. If I cared enough, I think it'd be interesting to make a list of the sites that got it right. Actually, I'm sure there's such a list in Cupertino already (he says ominously).
Update 6/10 - Looks like I called it right. Funambol will offer an MobileMe style service. Well, it helps that I had lunch with Fabrizio a couple weeks ago, but hey. :-)