I'm actually thinking about it.
After 7 years as a faithful user, I'm thinking about taking the plunge and severing my bank account from Apple's .Mac service. I'm seriously getting fed up with the delays and obvious omissions from Apple's online strategy, and I tend to believe that if the iPhone has been responsible for delays in OS X Leopard...where are Apple's .Mac/iLife priorities? Much further down. In the past seven years I have paid them about $1,000 for these services, and I'm starting to think I'm getting the raw end of the deal.
I think that Apple's .Mac service is dead, it just doesn't know it. And while my hopes are high that we'll see some amazing .Mac offerings when Leopard comes, I'm not holding my breath. So I'm starting my own .Mac death clock.
I'm giving them until Leopards release (when my account comes up for renewal), and in the meantime, I'm preparing to move all my online assets to other services. If I don't see some major improvements by Leopard, I'm leaving the fold for good. I love Apple products, but I'm not an apologist and I see them falling further and further behind every day.
I'm willing to pay for good services, and I'll admit that .Mac has some powerful features when combined with the operating system and software that Apple makes. However, I feel the amount of money I pay for services which are updated at a much slower pace than competing online services, is wasted. Let's face it, most of us likely hang on because we don't want to lose our email address. I've been using the same two addresses for seven years, and the fear of someone not being able to reach me is what keeps me from just cutting the cord right now. As far as other alternatives in mail, online storage, and site hosting...I simply get more for my money with Apple's competitors.
I know I'm not the only one here who expected to see some major improvements to the iLife/.Mac offerings this last Macworld. We got nothin. Apple apologists will tell you to just wait until Leopard, since the new services are likely tied to the operating system. But maybe that's the problem. Perhaps having to rely on the OS is not a very intelligent way to run a web services division. I mean other online companies have to build things that work for multiple OS's...why can't Apple? I think that Apple's desire to have everything interconnected is leading it down a path with .Mac that is keeping them from their true potential. Sure, I think connecting your OS and apps to one online account is dead handy, but I'm not sure that the .Mac division is getting all the assets it deserves.
Maybe it is the clear lack of strategy and vision that I see with .Mac that leaves me feeling this is a dead service? Maybe it is Apple's own deep secrecy about all things that leads me to believe that they cannot survive in a web 2.0 world? They are slow to move and execute, aren't willing to release beta features, and have no API/mashup strategy.
Now I'm not putting the blame on the people who work over in that division. I'm sure they are working around the clock and are doing the best they can, but my greater question is what is Apple's commitment to this division? I think that, like Filemaker, Apple should consider spinning .Mac off into a new company. A company that can take risks and chances and not suffer under the oppressive Apple secrecy. I want to see more mashups and freedom to push the envelope and inspire. Like with all Apple products, I want to see them innovate and be thought leaders in this arena, not just a has been.
If I were running that area I would open the doors to the web 2.0 community and foster relationships with outside developers and other web services. I'd also start a small incubator that helped small companies with big ideas get started and bring them into the fold. Apple has amazing resources...it could do so much for the online communities if it wanted. As it stands, I think their current path is one that will lead to a bunch of people migrating away from Apple's online services...and a major portion of what made iLife so valuable in the first place, will become a thorn in it's side.