Apple’s MobileMe isn’t just a warmed over PC- and iPhone-compatible version of .Mac. It’s important for two reasons:

  1. Apple is jumping headfirst into the cloud computing market. (And confounding pundits who predicted they’d partner with Google.)
  2. Apple is providing a consumer-friendly Exchange-like service that should work similarly beween PC/iPhone nad Mac/iPhone.

With this in mind, I’ll be previewing and then reviewing MobileMe. Working through the information that’s available now for the preview, I’m struck by how much more functionality Mac users get. That makes a certain amount of sense, obviously: On the Mac side, Apple has the iLife apps and so forth. But I think it will be interesting to investigate the differences between the Mac and PC experiences on MobileMe.

Here’s a first attempt at a table describing how the various MobileMe features map across Mac, Windows, and iPhone/iPod touch:

Feature Mac Windows iPhone/iPod touch
Push email Mail Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail Mail (OTA)
Push contacts Address Book Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Contacts Phone Contacts (OTA)
Push calendar iCal Outlook Calendar (OTA)
Gallery (photos) iPhoto ‘08, Aperture 2 n/a (Web access) Photos/Camera
Gallery (movies) iMovie ‘08 n/a (Web access?) n/a
Web site create, publish iWeb ‘08 n/a n/a
iDisk Web browser, Finder Web browser, Explorer n/a (?)
Bookmark sync Safari Internet Explorer, Safari Safari (OTA)
Dashboard widget preferences sync Leopard-only n/a n/a
Dock items sync Leopard-only n/a n/a
Application and system preferences sync Leopard-only n/a n/a
Mail Notes sync Leopard-only n/a n/a
Back To My Mac Leopard-only n/a n/a

Notes: All Mac features work on both Tiger and Leopard unless otherwise noted. Outlook costs about $100 and does not come with Windows. Apple iPhoto, iMovie, and iWeb are part of iLife ‘08 and do not come with Mac OS X, but do come with new Mac computers. Aperture does not come with Mac OS X.

Aside from the obvious stuff (Back To My Mac is Mac-only, go figure), what stands out here is that while Apple is finally starting to support native Vista applications (Windows Mail, Windows Contacts), it still requires Outlook for calendar sync, which is a shame as Vista’s Windows Calendar application is very similar to iCal and would work fine.

On the storage side, Apple does (as before) offer additional storage, and it’s more reasonably priced than it was during the .Mac days. You get 20 GB of storage with an individual MobileMe account and can add an additional 20 GB of storage for $49 per year. An additional 40 GB of storage is $99 a year.

What’s unclear is how you can access and use this storage. Mac users get the full meal deal, of course. But can Windows users, say, create a MobileMe Web site, attached to their own custom domain name, and then upload photo galleries as can Mac users? This is unclear to me right now.