Today's hot rumour is that Apple is looking to boost its .Mac service with push email, Windows support and improved syncing.
It's no secret that .Mac has been long overdue an overhaul. Last year's boost saw .Mac's storage limit upgraded to 10GB and syncing enhancements; but it's still standing so far away from an essential purchase that it would need a loudspeaker to communicate.
Still, there's no doubt that .Mac brings together a lot of useful functions in one place: email, online storage, calendar and bookmark syncing; it just doesn't come close to justifying the £55 per year price tag.
Which is why we're so sceptical when it comes to announcements regarding .Mac. They tend to be based much more on our personal wish-lists than any grounding in reality. We wish the price was more reasonable (or even free like Windows Live); we wish it synced our Documents folder rather than just the iDisk.
I used to wish it did something really clever, but then Apple invented Back To My Mac which made remote access easy. Now I mostly wish it didn't throw up Conflict Resolver every other week when the syncing gets screwed up.
The point being that .Mac has been surrounded by wishful thinking for a long while, and while this is all well and good, when combined with a company like Apple (famous for pulling surprises out of thin air) the wishes tend to become rumours that people all too willingly believe.
Mind you. The one thing here you need to be really careful of is Push email. Push email is currently only available on the iPhone via Yahoo; although corporate servers can supply it to other phones.
Push email differs from regular email in that your phone is constantly asking the server if there's new email. And if there is then it's pushed straight to the phone. This makes it much faster than the current iPhone which checks every 15 minutes or so. Because email is 'pushed' it is instantaneous: perfect for lawyers, doctors and other people for who minutes matter…
Magazine editors for example.
It's a busy job: stuff happens; deadlines emerge; important people ask pertinent questions and require answers. The phrase "as soon as possible" is all too often heard.
So I thought push email would be perfect and decided to dust off my old Yahoo email address and start using it.
Then I went on a trip to Germany to see Apple demonstrate its new server system at the Germany HQ.
Not seeing Apple, that was lots of fun and an extremely informative meeting. I learnt more about Leopard Server in that trip than I have in the last year. But while I was ingesting all that information my Yahoo email account was constantly polling for data and when you're abroad O2 charges £6 per meg.
I was there for one evening and the bill was £60. And I forgot my charger so the phone switched off at midnight.
If I'd been there for a two week holiday the bill would have probably exceeded £1,000. Even if I hadn't made a single call, or sent a single text or email.
AT&T was pulled up in the states for outrageous charges abroad, and it's push email that's to blame. If Apple really wants to promote push email then it better be prepared for some very angry customers; and some very scathing newspaper headlines.