Mac Email Showdown

ComputerWorld has a rather good showdown of email clients on Mac OS X. The best breakdown of features I’ve seen on the Mac side in some time.

That said, I think they were slightly unfair to Thunderbird. For example, Thunderbird does have calendar support via Lightning which wasn’t mentioned (though it does indicate webmail support via extension). I’ve been using it with Google Calendar and it’s been working very well for me. It also says that Thunderbird can’t read from the Mac OS X Address book, though it should be noted that’s now fixed for the next release. It does however in another part of the breakdown briefly discuss Apple’s upcoming Mail release.

Another interesting note is that there doesn’t seem to be any mention of Entourage still not being available as a Universal Binary, meaning it’s very slow on Intel based Mac’s as I’ve mentioned before. We won’t see it as a Universal Binary until 2008. As someone who uses it daily at work, I’m counting down the days. IMHO this problem alone makes Thunderbird a much better mail client (minus the lack of Exchange support).

Does anyone know if Mail supports exchange? The review seems to think so (see the chart), though I thought that was only over IMAP. Apple seems to agree with me (emphasis mine):

Mail works with the following account types: POP, IMAP, .Mac, and Exchange (only if configured as an IMAP server). You can’t log in directly to Hotmail, AOL, or any service that does not support POP or IMAP access, and retrieve email using Mail.

I wouldn’t really call that support.

Other than those things which I believe aren’t quite accurate, I actually liked the review. I though it was a decent breakdown on a level I haven’t seen before. It exposes features that few really look at (search for example), but really matter in terms of user experience.

Apple a Phone Service

Business Week’s Alex Salkever has an interesting article about Apple creating it’s own Skype like system. I’ve talked briefly about Skype before. I’m a huge fan. It’s a solid product. But Apple should take it to the next level. Allow me explain:

Ideally, for anything to become a good communication standard, it must be a standard. Skype is proprietary. While free, it’s not something that will be ported to a billion obscure systems anytime soon. There is also no guarantee it will stay free. We can only hope and trust. We need a standard. Something that can never be taken away. Apple, is an Open Source company these days. Look at how much open source is under the hood of Mac OS X. Clearly standards are a part of Apple’s future. Apple also has a history with communications (AppleTalk, iChat, Rendezvous). Apple has lots of experience with rich media (QuickTime), as well as streaming rich media. Apple is the perfect company for the task.

What’s needed?

An open platform for voice communications that meets the following requirements:

  • Secure
  • P2P
  • Needs to be a Standard
  • Needs to be built on standards (TCP/IP, etc. etc)
  • Nothing proprietary in the protocol
  • Someone with an eye for how to do things “right”
  • Directory Mechanism
  • Method to prevent abuse (spam)

Now if Apple created some protocol with a few partners (Motorola, of a PPC relationship also has a stake in communications) create a standard, it’s got a good shot at taking off. A great place to integrate Rendezvous. Or a similar technology perhaps based upon it.

Advantages for Apple

  1. A vast new communications feature for Mac OS X/iChat. This could serve as the core, as they add features for their release. Able to use what’s contributed by other companies/individuals.
  2. Gain a reputation of not just being a hardware company, but a standards company
  3. The “digital hub” concept so far is pretty encompassing but to date, everyone forgets about the most common electronic device: the telephone
  4. A system that will connect to much more than just Mac users. Any OS where someone wants to support it.

Apple was afraid of being left behind with the Internet, after Microsoft got fussy, so they created Mail.app and Safari, to ensure Mac users always had the Internet (despite Firefox rocking on the Mac). Guess what the next big Application is? That’s right.

But Apple is a Hardware company

True, but there are still advantages. Besides for the fact that the OS is crucial to make a computer worth anything, did you think how much Phones can be worth? That’s right. Who is to say Apple or another company can’t make a landline phone that uses WiFi and/or Ethernet to plug right into the net? No more phone bills. Just use our sleek phone. Using iSync, it keeps in touch with your Address Book on your Mac, so your address book is on every iPhone in your home. It can go anywhere via WiFi using Airport. Use an Airport Express to extend the range so you can be in the backyard with your cordless phone. Does anyone see how much hardware software integration there is here?

This is a market ripe for Apple to pick. Not to mention Apple already has the perfect domain for to host the project: www.iphone.org