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Bob Cringely is off his gourd

The Robert X. Cringely stuff was cute once, but it's hit "Fake Steve Jobs" territory now: We know who you are, and it's just not fun or funny anymore. More to the point, The X-Man's latest is just plain crazy talk:

MeMobile, You Kaput: Apple's plan to take over the world

It's worth noting, incidentally, that even the title of this post is horrible. I thought this was going to be a criticism of MobileMe, which would certainly be warranted, if Bob had ever actually used .Mac. Nope, he really thinks this is the Big Time.

Watch the recorded video of the speech ... Phil Schiller doesn't show a word processor, doesn't show a database or a spreadsheet, and doesn't show a presentation program. In short, he doesn't show the guts of any networked office-type application. He shows applications that are actually far more sophisticated than any of those.

Again, use .Mac. The stuff Schiller showed off isn't sophisticated or even particularly interesting, beyond "push email, contacts, and calendar," which gets a lot more interesting when it's Gmail/Google, Yahoo, or Microsoft. Just a thought, since those will happen. Then MobileMe loses it's appeal. Unless you're an Apple fanatic who can't stand the loss of his precious email address. Trust me, they're out there.

Given the code Apple already has for its iWork applications, how much more effort would it take to webify those apps, too? Not much, I'd say. A year from now I guarantee you that MobileMe will offer a complete suite of web-based Office applications.

This can go one of two ways, and either way, no one will ever care less:

1. Apple does what Cringely predicts and brings its mostly lame iWork applications (OK, Keynote is admittedly cool) to the Web, so anyone can use them. And... what? We need another Google Docs alternative, really? Do people really look to Apple for productivity applications? Seems like a stretch.

2. Apple doesn't do what Cringely predicts for a very good reason: iWork, ostensibly, is one of those Mac-only software solutions that, like iLife, Aperture, and a handful more, is supposed to get people to want to own a Mac. To be fair, Apple did shed its protectionist nature for MobileMe (as .Mac was obviously Mac-only), but the functionality there is so basic on the Web/Windows side that it's just not that compelling anyway.

Microsoft's success is based on two products and only two products -- Windows and Office. Microsoft is obsessed with the idea that Google will undermine one or both of those monopolies through Google Apps. This is all Steve Ballmer thinks about and is what made him so eager to spend $40+ billion for Yahoo.

Actually, no it is not. And I can prove it.

When Microsoft made its second purchase bid for Yahoo this past week, it tried to buy Yahoo's search business only. That is what Microsoft wanted, not some sort of Google Apps-type technology/solution. So this assertion is demonstrably false.

But what if the real threat isn't Google at all, but Apple?

Sure. What if UFOs are real? I mean ... what if??

[Some 80/20 rule baloney ensues along with a hopefully rhetorical question about what sort of word processor Porsche would create. Dear God, Bob. Apple made Pages for crying out loud. Spare us.]

Nearly everyone who tries it is going to LOVE MobileMe, which Apple -- calling it "Microsoft Exchange for the rest of us" -- will madly market to small and medium-sized businesses, of which there are six million in the U.S. alone.

Again, I have to fall back on something that Cringely clearly doesn't have: Experience. MobileMe is based on .Mac. There isn't a single feature that Schiller demoed in the keynote, for example, that doesn't already work now in .Mac. This stuff isn't new, and it isn't particularly compelling. The only part of MobileMe worth discussing at all is the push stuff. That's it, and it's something other companies will be able to do too.

IPhone enterprise customers will do the same [buy iPhones, MobileMe accounts, and eventually Macs and MacBooks for their workers].

Excuse me while I clean the coffee off my monitor. I ... uh... Geeze, Bob, that's quite an iCabal wet dream you've created there. I agree that a certain percentage of enterprises will buy iPhones. But MobileMe accounts? LOL. Good Lord, dude. Come on.

And that's just in the U.S. What about those other 69 countries that will have iPhone service by the end of the year and the 62 that will allow Apple's App Store?

I expect HUGE things from iPhone-toting enterprises in Ecuador, Bob. I really do. They get it.

The smartest thing Apple could do with its cash hoard right now would probably be to buy and fold that into MobileMe, instantly taking the high ground among the road warrior set.

And the smartest thing you could do, Bob, is to ... You know what, never mind. This is insane.

I assume you wrote this article with Apple Pages? And are a .Mac subscriber?

Ah. I thought as much.


Thanks Rick, for pointing out this craziness to me. I think. :)

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