S-Day

Valve, October 19th, 1999:

Given the realities of the Mac gaming market, our Mac customers were always going to be mad at us. They were always going to be second-class customers where we couldn’t invest to the same degree in the Mac version as we did elsewhere. I don’t want to be in that business. I would much rather we just eat the money we’ve spent so far than take money from Mac customers and short-change them.

Valve, May 12th, 2010:

Whether you’re a Mac or a PC, Steam has the games you want to play and a global community of gamers to play with.

What a difference a decade can make.

For those of you taking the plunge tomorrow for the first time, I am more than happy to take questions and help you make heads or tails of a fantastic (yet sometimes intimidating) gaming platform. Just visit my Steam Community and add me as a friend after you get it installed. (I would do a longer post, but there’s still a lot about the launch that we won’t know until tomorrow.)

Hope to see you there.

MobileMeh

January, 2000: Apple unveiled iTools. Provided for free to anyone running OS 9, it provided a POP email account at mac.com, 20 MB of internet-based storage referred to as iDisk, web hosting space, and internet filtering software to keep the kids safe. It was 2000, I was in college, it was free. I could not argue. I took the address remy@mac.com.

July, 2002: iTools relaunches as “.Mac”. It begins to cost $100 a year. Having just graduated, and not wanting to be tied to my university email for the rest of my life, I opt to start paying in October.

October, 2003: I renew my .Mac account. I am happy with the service.

February 2004: I purchase my first Sidekick. It does not sync contacts with my phone, thus increasing the value of address book sync.

April, 2004: Gmail launches. Unable to take a name of less than six characters, I default back to “remydwd” as my user name. My .Mac email account falls out of favor, but continue to renew the account for address book synchronization.

October, 2004: I renew my .Mac account. I feel like I am getting enough out of the address book, bookmarks, and keychain sync to justify the cost, and Katie’s email account is attached as a sub-account.

October, 2005: I renew my .Mac account. I still feel like I am getting enough out of the address book, bookmarks, and keychain sync to justify the cost, and Katie’s email account is attached as a sub-account.

April, 2006: Google Calendar launches. Any use I had for iCal as a primary repository of my calendaring now goes out the window.

October, 2006: I renew my .Mac account. I’m not entirely sure I am getting enough out of the sync to justify the cost, but Katie’s email account is attached as a sub-account.
June, 2007: The iPhone comes out. I buy one the day after release. I finally replace my Sidekick with a phone that can actually sync my address book.

October, 2007: Leopard launches, which features “Back to My Mac”. I finally have some degree of reliable screen sharing between home and the office. I happily renew my .Mac account.

April, 2008: I get an invite to Dropbox. I immediately forget about the existence of iDisk – not that I had ever used it much to begin with.

June, 2008: .Mac relaunches as MobileMe. It is largely terrible for the first few months. I don’t notice much as I’m not using the service – not even on my iPhone for over-the-air contact syncing, which blows out my address book the first time I try it. I get a three month service extension to compensate for the poor service.

January, 2009: I renew my .Mac account. Katie has switched to Gmail at long last, but Back To My Mac is still mostly useful.

June, 2009: iPhone OS 3.0 is released. “Find my iPhone” is added as a feature to MobileMe. I find it neat but ultimately useless, as I could remote wipe through a console at the office. I can now get both my work and personal calendar over the air, reliably. I refer to this as the “holy grail” around the office.

January 2010: I face reality. When you have extremely reliable, robust email from Google, cloud storage with every feature I can imagine from Dropbox, and I’m able to carry my address book with me on my iPhone all the time, I am unable to see any reason to continue with MobileMe. I decline to renew my account.

Narrative aside, there’s a lesson here: if you’re going to provide core internet services, consider the price differential between you and your strongest competitor. If it’s a little, you only need to be a little better.

$100 a year for what feels like a worse product than what’s available for free? Your business model is *screwed*. Start over, do better.