Dear Steve Jobs,
I feel that with the “death” of the XServe Server and the uncertain future of Mac OS X Server OS, Apple should delve into offering hosted services to pull in entities who are now scattered among numerous other services such as Google Apps for Domains, commercial hosting, and numerous other third party hosted or self hosted apps, which require a lot of maintenance, multiple accounts, billing, etc. Many of my IT associates who have switched to Apple laptops and desktops have commented to me that they hate still having to use non-apple apps to complete their daily business.
For example, the MobileMe interface already is an attractive and functional interface for email, contacts, calendar, iDisk, Photos and location services. How much harder would it be to allow a company to signup and fully attach their own domain to the MobileMe framework. Perhaps even create a separate enhanced version of MobileMe in their [Apple's] newest “cloud” datacenter in North Carolina and, over time, have an ‘a la carte’ offering of additional new services that users need/request. Maybe even allow developers to write custom Apps that can be cleanly integrated into the web interface and a matching app for the iOS device(s).
Keep the price reasonable, no more than $1-2/mo per user, which would be very attractive for small businesses, special pricing for larger corporations and perhaps discounts when Apple devices are purchased and attached to an account. Perhaps 1 year for free when any iOS device is purchased to draw users in.
The advantages of this would be numerous, it would give small businesses and organizations a unified and complete “Apple Branded Experience” on their Mac PCs, iPhones, iPads, etc. Almost everyone I know has a Apple device of some kind and many would prefer to use their own domain. Apple does offer the capability of attaching a domain to your MobileMe webspace, but that does not extend to customization of the other services.
Also, with minor modifications to the existing MobileMe framework, it would bring a whole new potential residual revenue stream that millions of users could utilize. It may also spur additional companies and users to buy Apple hardware knowing that all these services are so well intergrated. Adding similar features as Google Apps for Domains and improving upon them would make it a very attractive alternative.
Now don’t get me wrong, I do use and am VERY happy with Google Apps for Domains, but it would be nice to have some competition from another major player to keep things interesting. Google does accomplish a lot of what I’ve stated in this email, but it’s not as “pretty”, well integrated and cost effective for those with many needs.
Perhaps Apple could even purchase a VoIP company and add that to their portfolio of services. With an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and an old Mac Mini, it would be nice to get deep integration of all my communications needs while not being forced onto the @me.com domain.
I guess only time will tell how far Apple is willing to ascend into the cloud.