Apple MobileMe for small businessApple’s launch of MobileMe is notable. Is it relevant for small business?

Hard to say, as it hasn’t been released, just announced.

But in a nutshell, no, it is not suitable for small business. Apple could (and probably will) address this in the future however.

I’ve discussed recently that we use Google Apps for our business mail and calendaring. For a whole bunch of reasons mentioned in Simplify your Email Life, so I won’t go into them here.

Apple say that MobileMe is Exchange for the rest of us. Curious. An individual is a lot further away from Exchange than a small business.

MobileMe is an extension of the .mac service, which has never been aimed at small business.

With MobileMe, Apple give us a new browser based email interface. But also calendaring and address book. Sort of like Google Apps.

Apple’s MobileMe service syncs to Mac Mail and Outlook. You also get integration with the Gallery features we have had in Mac, which make it easy to publish galleries of photos to the web.

It runs from me.com, which is a cool domain to be sure.

But it is not a small business application. Businesses want to run their own domain email, such as joe@joesdomain.com. And they need an easy way to manage multiple emails.

Have Apple addressed spam? One of the biggest reasons for going with Google Mail is the spam filtering. If Apple can do as well as Google on this front, then they will earn loyal users of their mail service.

Having used .mac and sync services for some time, I am sceptical that it will be a smooth experience to replicate data across iPhones, Macs and PCs.

And having stopped using desktop mail and calendar apps, I no longer see any reason to replicate information around. Just keeping my mail box and calendar in one place makes sense, all I want is to get to it from anywhere.

My guess is that once people start to use browser mail and calendaring on their iPhone, a lot more people will make this move.

One final thing from a comparative perspective – Google Apps is free. MobileMe costs around $99/year, per user.

The iPhone is a huge device for business, and I will get one when it finally arrives in Australia. It will let me run my Google Apps based mail and calendar.

One day, Apple might offer a small business oriented version of MobileMe. But we aren’t there yet.

MobileMe looks like an incredible consumer application, and I look forward to it thriving.