Monday, June 23, 2008

Tiny Church on Budget #3 - MobileMe

MobileMe is a huge gift to churches. Really it is.

Most churches cannot afford the thousands (or possibly tens of thousands) it costs to put in an email server that can synchronize your contacts, email and calendar and provide the means so that you can access it via your Mac or PC, your smartphone, or online. 

Usually the standard is to put in a Microsoft Exchange solution but with the cost of seat licenses for all your users, the cost in hardware and maintenance, not to mention the security measures, switches, etc. it can eat up a budget.

And be impossible to attain for all except the larger churches.

Or the alternative is to manually synchronize that information finding ad hoc ways to keep all your information the same so that you have the information you need to respond to your ministry's needs.

Now enter MobileMe which is the next evolution of Apple's .Mac service which they are now branding as "Exchange for the rest of us."

What that means is that without buying any hardware or software, you now have a solution that can synchronize your email, calendar, and contacts across your devices, whether it is a Mac, a PC, an iPhone, or accessing this information online.

You're at a coffee shop and an email comes in with a request for a meeting. You reply and confirm a meeting time, enter the event in your iPhone. Your Mac or PC back at the office that is on updates its calendar with the same meeting moments later. 

Or you're at the in laws on the computer and want to check your schedule for the next day, you log onto www.me.com and check your calendar to see what the day looks like. Because you want to spend an extra day with your family, you drag the next day's scheduled events to other days to clear out your schedule. And your church secretary or administrative assistant can check your updated calendar in seconds.

You also have up to 20 GB of online storage so you can store your critical documents online and securely access them from any Mac or PC with an up-to-date browser. You can even use it to share files with others that are too big to email without giving away access to the rest of your documents.

MobileMe also has a photo component so that you can share your photo albums

What makes MobileMe so great to use is that the online applications for email, calendars, and contacts are so good you might prefer using them than your desktop application. And you get "push" technology as well - which means that changes are pushed out to devices that are to be synchronized rather than the device polling a server on a periodic schedule.

And all this for $99/year (or less if you can purchase discounted MobileMe memberships like you could with .Mac).

At the time of this writing, I believe that MobileMe requires you to have an @me.com email address.

Check it out at www.apple.com.


4 comments:

iChris said...

Not sure if you work for Apple or are just a Apple fan like myself (an 'About Me' page might be nice to clarify how much of a sales promotion vs helpful tips the blog contains) but wouldn't something like Google Apps for your own domain be a much better recommendation for a church on a budget? Free and easily viewable and updating on multiple devices (mac, pc, iPhone, windows mobile phone, etc)?

Obviously then you have the adverts appearing, but that's a lot cheaper than $100/user/year.

Kevin Ledgister said...

Nope. Don't work for Apple at all but I do own a tiny amount of Apple stock. I use Google stuff too but I like the seamless and polished way that MobileMe works compared to Google.

Google apps have that continual beta appearance to them that I don't care much for but yeah, for a church that can't afford the $100/year for the pastor, it can work too.

Dave said...

I'm with iChris - All the things you mentioned in the article can be done just as easily and for free with the Google tools.

Kevin Ledgister said...

Since this original post, Google has improved their offerings which offers a great option.

However, a friend of mine who just purchased an iPhone did find it easier to work with MobileMe than Google which is to be expected.

I have, myself, thought of just going with Google instead of MobileMe.