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Google the Next .Mac?

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People are looking for a cheap, preferably free, way of getting universal access. Question is who will achieve it first, and who will get it right?

Cloud computing seems to be all the rage these days, from business collaboration tools, like Document & Spreadsheet apps, to the YouTube’s and Flickr’s of the web. Either way you look at it, it would appear that universal access is getting nearer and nearer. Eventually cloud computing will be the only computing, and the only OS you’ll need will be completely location independent. But for now, there are a few choices to get started with. Between Apple’s .Mac service and Google Apps, which is more likely for consumers to choose?

Let’s breakdown the basic features and compare the two:

Basic Features .Mac Google Apps
Online Storage 10 Gigs Shared Unknown
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Syncing check.png x.png


Since the most recent update, .Mac has brought new and exciting features. The .Mac Web Gallery offers unparalleled ability to share photos and slideshows. Users now have 10 gigs at their disposal to share between Mail and storing files. One feature that has most intrigued me is “Back To My Mac.” Currently it lets .Mac users access any of their computers from outside their own network. If I’m at home, I can access my work computer and vice versa. What interests me most is my hope of one day seeing very similar features across the iPhone and iPod Touch platforms. Imagine throwing in a bit of Front Row access, and you’re streaming your favorite videos or music from wherever you are. .Mac also offers a complete Backup and Restore utility, the ability to Sync iCal and Address Book across multiple Macs, which can come in handy especially if you’re on the go. In total these features will cost you $99 a year.

Google Apps

Currently Google offers 5.6 gigs for Gmail and has announced GDrive, their answer to online storage. Currently the amount of online storage space is unknown but I imagine it to grow similar to Gmail. Knowing Google, this probably won’t be your average online storage. Perhaps online sharing and then some? Currently is my choice for online storage. They offer the capability of sharing as well as document editing. With Google you know if they introduce something new, it’s going to go above and beyond what you expect.

Google also has Picasa and Blogger under their belt. With Picasa users can currently store and share one gig worth of photos online. Page Creator lets users create websites and upload them to Blogger. Google also features Google Docs & Spreadsheets for online editing. While you may not be able to cross sync computers, or access another computer, having your Calender and Documents stored online makes remote accessibility easy. Having everything edited and stored online means you never have to worry about syncing computers to get the most up to date information. Other features include Google Talk for online communicating, Google Reader, and your own personalized homepage. Naturally the most attractive feature offered by Google is having all these utilities completely mobile and completely free.

One Google to Rule Them All?

Gmail is the true gateway drug. As soon as you switch, you feel compelled to use all the other Google utilities and features available before you. Whether your poison is Google Reader or iGoogle, there’s a strong platform to expand on. With their rate of acquisitions, Google can only stand to gain more ground. So for this user, while .Mac may look pretty and be feature friendly, but I’m sticking with Google. You can’t beat free, and you can’t be mobile the way Google achieves it.

However, I think it’s interesting to note that the CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, is also on the Board of Directors for Apple. So while they may be competing for universal access, maybe they really are just be building off of one another.

21 Responses to “Google the Next .Mac?”

  1. I believe that Plaxo offers syncing of both contacts and calendars between Google and the Mac (I think that you need to download a beta version to do both).

    I haven’t tried it myself, so I can’t comment on how well (or not) it works.

  2. .Mac is better for me because of Sync and the email interface via IMAP to the underlying folders is more standard. Google’s use of labels instead of actual folders is clumsy. But, at least Gmail is IMAP based now.

  3. @Ali: I agree, I think finding seamless interaction between programs currently rates higher than cloud computing. Rarely am I away from my own personal computers, and rarely am I in desperate to need rediscover my iPhoto while I’m on vacation. It is nice to be able to share, and .Mac has a good system set up for it, it really just comes down to the cost for me.

    @Jim: Good call, I can’t find any official announcement, everyone seems to be spreading the same rumor from the same ultimate sources. But I wouldn’t put it past Google to launch an online storage platform, it fits the puzzle and seems like a good path to go down for them (and for us).

    What I really think it all comes down to is the quality of sharing. If I need access to my iCal or Address Book from anywhere, I might as well get an iPhone, but if I want to share my photos, or my calenders that seems to be a completely different story. In that aspect I think Google is a solid competitor to .Mac

  4. Since when is Google’s GDrive no longer a rumor? I haven’t seen or heard an official announcement about it. Any links beyond the skepticism, rumors and “I saw some obscure link on a Google page that no longer exists” statements?

  5. @Stan, there is really no need for the iPhoto plugin unless you’re seriously into your keywords. I use the free uploader from Flickr and it does just fine. And it’s free. The plugin costs $$$ and when I tried it out it wasn’t as intuitive as the free one.

  6. I really wish a free sync for gmail and my ical and address book would become available. Well…basically a free .mac all the way! There is no way I could talk my wife into a 100 dollars for a .mac account.

  7. Ali Daniali

    Thanks for the comparison. The UI of the .Mac gallery is very well done, and my exporting of photos from iPhoto to .Mac is seamless. I wish Google would build a OSX version of Picasa. The integration between OSX application and .Mac is where the whole service shines. In my opinion its not just the app in the cloud but how can I seamlessly interact with it with the applications I use every day. Sort of supporting Matt’s comment.

  8. Matt Radel

    Nice post. Frankly I hope that Google really challenges .Mac to either kill it or make it more attractive to users. I don’t think .Mac is even close to being worth the price right now.

  9. Well what I miss most @google is a(n official) contact syncing API so 3rd party applications or even google itself can finally offer syncing to and from PIMs like outlook or mail/addressbook/ical etc. I need to have my contacts everywhere.. and simply cannot sync them manually… :-/

  10. Another plus for Google: Google Apps for My Domain. If you run a small biz, give it a look. I’m test driving now – tying to my domain, switching my domains email (you can have email as [email protected] within Google Apps). Tie it to a subdomain ( You can share calendars with the group, create a custom start page, etc.

    So far it looks very cool – and all free. You can upgrade to their “Pro” version for 50 clams a year – you get mega storage, more support, Postini, etc.