Thousands of developers have gathered in San Francisco for Apple’s Wordwide Developers Conference 2008. The spotlight at WWDC is on the new iPhone 3G and the iTunes App Store, which is launching in July to bring (officially) native apps to iPhone and iPod touch devices, but web developers have been eyeing MobileMe, Apple’s relaunch of the .Mac service.
For users of Gmail, Google Calendar, and Picasa Web (or any of the competitors from Yahoo! and Microsoft), MobileMe is a new contender that promises to automatically push your online changes into desktop applications like Microsoft Outlook and mobile devices like the iPhone (and vice versa). Unlike its competitors, however, MobileMe shows no signs of offering open APIs for other web applications to integrate with the service.
The other big difference between MobileMe and its competitors is that MobileMe costs $99 a year. On the one hand, you can use free services that integrate with an ever-expanding range of web apps and web-enabled desktop applications; on the other hand, you can pay for a service that only integrates seamlessly across supported devices and desktop apps.
Speaking as a card-carrying Mac fan, I’ll be sticking with my non-Apple web apps for now. Thanks to their open APIs, I can use a free service like Plaxo to sync them to my desktop software and devices. The experience isn’t quite as seamless as what MobileMe will offer, but it’s close, and as a developer it’s comforting to know that my data is only a well-documented API call away.