MobileMe may find its niche in small business

Apple's suite of cloud-based tools has a business-friendly feel.

MobileMe has always seemed like a hard sell in the consumer market. For UD$99 a year, Apple's suite of Web-based services delivers...<drum roll>...e-mail! A calendar! Online apps and storage! Yep, stuff you can get for free elsewhere.

True, Apple being Apple, MobileMe is thoughtfully designed and easy to use. And the newly upgraded version of MobileMe Mail offers faster performance, better security, and rules to automatically organize incoming mail. But a hundred bucks a year is a lot for Web apps, even for Apple devotees willing to pay a premium for a superior computing experience.

MobileMe, despite its consumerish bent, may find greater success in the small business market. Two features stand out as particularly pro-business: Find My iPhone and Remote Wipe. Both are security tools that can help small businesses with iPhone-toting employees keep their trade secrets safe from competitors, criminals, and other prying eyes.

Seek or Destroy

MobileMe subscribers can use Find My iPhone to locate (surprise!) a lost iPhone. If your phone is missing, you can log into your MobileMe account at Me.com and select the "Find My iPhone" option. Provided the handset is connected to an Edge or 3G network, a blue circle on a MobileMe map shows your iPhone's estimated location. (The smaller the circle, the more precise the estimate.) The service also displays a message and plays a sound on your iPhone, even if the screen is locked and the phone is in silent mode.

If Find My iPhone doesn't work, there's always Remote Wipe, which permanently erases all information on your phone. After you trigger the wipe, a confirmation e-mail assures you that the data deletion has begun. Your iPhone is restored to factory default settings; your personal data is erased. And since iTunes backs up your iPhone, you can restore your data (should you find your iPhone), by connecting the device to your computer to restore the most recent backup.

For $100 a year, MobileMe could prove an affordable security tool for small business owners. And in addition to Find My iPhone and Remote Wipe, the service's push tools--specifically, its capability to route your latest email, contact, and calendar information to your iPhone, Mac, and PC with no docking required--may appeal to businesses with remote workers.

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter http://twitter.com/jbertolucci ) or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com.

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Jeff Bertolucci

PC World (US online)
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