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iTools/.Mac - There is no free lunch
July 21, 2002

I want to share some of my opinions on the iTools/.Mac conundrum. I think everyone is getting a little too worked up over this. For the purpose of this discussion let's take a look at the two elements of iTools/.mac that are probably the most universal and useful, email and online storage.

First email. I will admit that the claims from Apple that an online email account like hotmail or yahoo will cost you $40 or whatever, well, that's justs not right I have a yahoo account and frankly it's totally free. I will admit that I do not know a lot of people who's email address is 'myfriend@mac.com' so I would wonder how important this feature is. My guess is that most Mac owners that buy the computer for personal use are NOT on a corporate network and therefore must be providing some sort of ISP functionality on their own. Every internet service provider provides an email account for those who sign up with them. I have many more friends who's email account is 'myfriend@attbi.com' or 'myfriend@aol.com'.

So if you somehow have a miracle free ISP and therefore need a miracle free email account and you are counting on Apple to provide it then yea, you would be screwed but face it, there are alternatives.

Second online storage. This is my favorite part of iTools. I need to confess that this was also the part of iTools that I TOTALLY abused the most. Frankly, I would not be surprised if Chris Fenwick has something to do with the iTools Team deciding that they needed to start charging for the service. Here is my big confession. I managed at least 25 iTools accounts. I'll admit I didn't really even try to hide it. I owned chrisfenwick, (the one I currently have purchased), chrisfenwick01, chrisfenwick02, hell I had tons of them, (not all called chrisfenwick). The lure of free online storage on a Quicktime optimized server was just too tempting.

I even set them up for clients so that they could go and see approval copies of videos that I was working for them. How cool is that to make a non Apple friendly client go to an Apple web site to see their video.

In the times we live in we are generating TONS of data and want to share that data with others. We also live in a time when hard drives are cheaper then ever. My first high speed media drives cost me $3500 for a 9GB drive. OUCH! You can buy drives that are one tenth that cost and ten times the size. That is progress!

So why is it that most online service providers are still being such cheap skates with online storage.

Let's take a look at the "VHS of online service providers", AOL.

AOL charges $240 annual for an dial up account (if you pay upfront) you get 5 (or 7?) email addresses and each one gets a whopping, are you ready for this, 2 MB's to create a web page.. HOLY CRAP Batman, it's 2002, not 1902, give me some space. I use Pac Bell DSL for my ISP, they give me a paltry 5MB of space. Let's face it, that was fine back in the day when a web page consisted of a tiny HTML document and maybe a photograph of the family at Disneyland from last summers vacation. But we live in different times.

Today we put video files online so we can show grandma and grandpa video from Disneyland. We don't put A photo online we put PHOTO ALBUMS online. That kind of thing is just not possible with the amount of disk space that is offered by AOL. So what does this mean in regards to .Mac.

At $100 annually Apple has done the responsible thing, they have given us a more accurate idea of how much something will cost. It is very deceptive to say some thing is 'ONLY 22.95 a month' (AOL's dial up cost) when infact it totals $276 dollars and remember, for that you ONLY get 2MB of storage per email address.

Are you getting that?

2MB for $276 annual.

.Mac is $8.33 per month or $100 annually and for that you get 100MB.

AOL is charging $138 per MB. Apple is charging $1 per MB.

Some of you may be saying, "I don't need that much space, what am I going to do with all that space?" That is what my mom said when she bought her iBook and found out that it had a 10GB hard drive. Last week she called me up and asked why she couldn't burn a CD and after some trouble shooting we figured out the drive was full and her iBook didn't have enough space to create the needed disk image to burn a CD.

Apple has always been ahead of the game in providing us with what we need. I assure you, in a year or two you will be saying, "How do I get more space on my .Mac account.

That is if Apple doesn't bump it up for you as a favor because realistically drives really are that cheap.

Let's be reasonable with our criticism of Apples choice to do the inevitable. Didn't anyone take an Econ class in college, "there is no free lunch". At least with Apple we will only pay $1 per MB to dine.

Chris Fenwick
Director/Lead Designer
Broadcast Business Graphics