In an article on AppleInsider, Josh Ong details changes in the upcoming iOS 4.2 update. It seems to blur the line between MobileMe and a user’s Apple ID. It’s a subtle addition, but it might just be the seed of a revolution in personal computing.


In an article today on AppleInsider, Josh Ong details changes in the upcoming iOS 4.2 software update. One small detail caught my eye: There’s an option to enter an Apple ID username and password in the MobileMe setting. It’s a subtle addition, but it might just be the seed of a revolution in personal computing.

Apple appears to be encouraging MobileMe subscribers to connect their accounts with their Apple ID.

It looks like Apple is making it possible for iOS-device owners to use MobileMe by signing-in with their Apple IDs – and perhaps, tie together their existing accounts. In this one small step lies the key to an amazing array of functionality.

The Apple ID is used in many places: on the desktop for authorising a Mac/PC with an iTunes account, in the iTunes Store for making purchases, setting-up and using a Ping (and perhaps, one day soon, Facebook) account, storing and sharing documents on iWork.com, and using FaceTime on the Mac as a core account (with MobileMe or other email addresses added afterward). It’s also used when making purchases from the Apple online store. In time, it’s safe to assume it’ll be used on the upcoming Mac App Store, too.

MobileMe, on the other hand, is used primarily to synchronise email, contacts and calendars, along with bookmarks and, if you like, System Preferences and even Keychains across Macs.

So, to echo Steve Jobs, What if an Apple ID and a MobileMe account got together? I think the offspring would be nothing less than revolutionary.

Next Steps

An AppleID/MobileMe hybrid brings the Apple universe together, both on the Mac and on iOS devices. I suspect next summer’s release of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion may prove to be the final leap from today’s sort-of-connected world, to an always-connected world, where the simple rule is: Wherever you can use your Apple ID, you have access to your Email, Contacts, Calendars, Bookmarks, Music, Movies, Pictures, Ping, all your iWork documents and all the software you ever bought in both the iOS and Mac App Stores. All of it ready to be streamed or downloaded, some of it automatically, most of it on-demand.

If the new MacBook Air truly is the future of MacBooks, it’s a much more likely future. If we want our notebooks to be thin, light and go for days on a single charge, we must be prepared to ditch today’s optical and hard drives. Flash storage can fill the gap, but it’s too expensive to store all the media users want access to. Streaming data, therefore, presents the best next step, practically and economically, in personal computing.

If you’ve ever bought a Mac and enjoyed the experience of seeing your MobileMe data populate your Address Book, iCal and Mail apps, imagine being able to take the process much further, and watch all your software, multimedia and personal documents also become available… all because you signed-in with a single username and password. Authentication could even be handled by your iPhone, if rumors prove true.

There’s nothing really comparable to this on other platforms and for ordinary consumers. Windows Live connects Microsoft’s Hotmail, Photo Gallery, Skydrive and a few other services in a loose manner, but it’s pretty fragmented and doesn’t show signs of becoming a cohesive solution any time soon. Google’s ecosystem is a strong contender but remains devoid of the spit-and-polish and ease-of-use for which Apple’s products are famous.

Of course, for all of this to be a practical and reliable really would require a truly enormous state of the art data center. If only Apple had something like that

The Work Does Itself

This is also, incidentally, why Apple will never buy Dropbox: They don’t need to. Dropbox is a service that depends on users manipulating data directly in the file system, and that’s a paradigm Apple wants ordinary users to abandon.

In this hypothetical (and, I can’t help think, inevitable) scenario, Apple will provide its customers with ample cloud-based storage as they need it. Users may well enjoy dozens of gigabytes of storage, but never know it. Nor would they ever need to know it. They’ll know only what matters: that they can stream their iTunes library to their devices quickly and in high quality, that their photos are available anywhere they have a connection to the Internet, that the Keynote presentation they started this morning on their MacBook can be finished this afternoon on their iPad without the painful export/import silliness they suffer today.

Connecting the Apple ID with MobileMe is, at least for consumers, the first step toward an exciting new future, one for which Apple has been building the foundations since .Mac was launched in 2002. The pieces are almost all in place, and with Apple’s massive new data center online and Lion available next summer, I think we’re about to experience the most transformative personal computing revolution since the Macintosh itself.

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  1. I would be shocked if Apple isnt moving in this direction. It is clearly the trajectory of the broader industry and it is something that makes sense for consumers and even, increasingly, for the enterprise.

    Consumerization and industrialization have an inevitability to them because both drive bottom line value for consumers and businesses. A right sized cloud approach is a key foundation asset in unlocking potential in this segment.

    Ironically, Microsoft has been touting this for years now with the “software plus services” mantra, but they have been unable to execute in a way that has really resonated and they are lacking a clear and singular vision.

    Google and Apple both seem to be, at this stage, well out in front of delivering a model that seamlessly leverages cloud services to expand and extend smart client devices.

  2. Just so you guys know…Apple ID’s and MobileMe accounts have always been tied to each other…

    I’ve used MobileMe since it was iTools back in the 90’s, and I’ve never had anything other than one account for both. If you look at your AppleID under managing your account, one of the features there is MobileMe. And no, that didn’t just pop up overnight like yours and all these other false articles suggest.

    I use the same Apple account for iTunes, MobileMe, iOS Developer program, Apple Store, etc. There is no notion of separate MobileMe accounts and there never has been.

    I’ve seen at least 10 of these stories from the various tech blogs, and I guess ya’ll just read someone else’s false claims and re-write it to pick up some ad revenue yourselves. It’s ridiculous. Do some fact checking first and don’t assume someone else is right.

    1. Andrew MacDonald Tuesday, November 2, 2010

      I did find that part of the article quite weird, as I, like you have had the same experience. I use the exact same user login for iTunes, Mobile Me and the Apple Store.

      1. I’m with you guys. I don’t quite get this article.
        The ONLY thing I can see for me that is a little different is that I am new to MobileMe, and only use a username, not a full email, to use MM.
        But I’m not digging MM so much yet. The contacts sync great. But the calendar…not at all. Between my iphone, ipad, and MBPro, my contacts are the only data that sync. I’m wondering if it has something to do with the “new MobileMe”…. ???

  3. My first and only experience with Mobile Me was when I tried to sync my new Mac book with my power mac. I wound up with contacts that were duplicated 3 or 4 times on both machines and with empty key chains on both machines. Will I trust Apple with my data again? No Way.

  4. This is one of the more idiotic things I have ever read.

    “I think the offspring would be nothing less than revolutionary.”

    Yeah man. Vive La Revolucion. You must be bored.

  5. Once upon a time, we used dumb terminal to access a mainframe computer. Granted, both ends of the current setup are infinitely more flexible and capable than in days of yore, but I still can’t help feeling that we’re moving forward into the past…

  6. Andrew MacDonald Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    I completely agree with all you’ve said in this article. It’s inevitable that this is the way it is going. I pay for MobileMe access, and while it’s good, there is a lot more that could be done with it.

    I think Apple has left Mobile Me to itself without any ‘big’ updates because they are waiting for the new data centre. When that comes online, I think they will really explore and deploy a more cohesive experience for users, tying every one of their iOS and Mac devices together, all with one login name,

  7. Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t see the point of this post- your Apple ID & MobileMe ID *are* the same- they don’t need to get together. Your Apple ID can be any email address you already have, I know that, but when you setup a MobileMe account, you get an Apple Dot Me (used to be Dot Mac) email address anyway. Which then becomes your Apple ID… What would be truly revolutionary is if you could use your Apple ID to access sync services *without* signing up/ paying for for MobileMe…

    1. Abbi Vakil said “…but when you setup a MobileMe account, you get an Apple Dot Me (used to be Dot Mac) email address anyway. Which then becomes your Apple ID…”

      Ummm, not quite. I created my Apple ID a long time before I bought a Mac and subsequently a Mobile Me account. My original Apple ID persists and hasn’t been replaced by my .Mac address. In fact I wish I could just use my .Mac address as my sole ID within the Apple world.

      1. Simon, you’re right, if you start a MobileMe account *after* you create an Apple ID, it doesn’t automatically convert, but you can change your Apple ID anytime by going to the following link @ Apple.com http://bit.ly/9e30ht

        Then your Apple ID & MobileMe ID will be in sync :-)

  8. This all sounds great, but wont a full-on cloud environment increase data download costs ? Maybe thats fine in the US of A … but elsewhere, data download costs are still not cheap.

  9. I suppose sometime in the near future, we’ll all have 24X7 internet and this will at least be possible.

    But today, many of us spend hours in offices where we’re prohibited from connecting personal machines to the company net (and alternative access is blocked, too) or like to ride trains & airplanes that likewise go thru dead zones. The cloud secondary storage model requires much more careful storage management than anything I envision Apple providing, especially given how half-assed MobileMe continues to be.

  10. Revolutionary ? Welcome to having a Google Account.


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