Sunday, August 07, 2011

Window of Opportunity for 1Password and Dropbox?

Apple is continuing to release information about the transition to iCloud. For some MobileMe users the transition could be problematic as features are dropped, or reworked. Apple Insider has a good analysis in their post:

Apple officially killing MobileMe sync for keychains, widgets, accounts, preferences

For me the MobileMe feature that backed up Keychains, widgets, preferences and mail rules, signatures etc. has been a life saver. Switching Macs was easy when all that was needed was to enter your MobileMe account information and sync. 

As Apple transitions to OS X Lion, iOS 5 and iCloud things are changing. It will be interesting to see how Apple intends to handle mail rules, signatures and preferences moving forward.  In the meantime the change does provide a window of opportunity for two companies:

1Password is one of those must have Mac Apps. It allows you to save passwords, credit card information and other data in a secure keychain file. AgileBits provides extensions for Safari, Chrome and Firefox as well as Apps for Windows, iOS and Android.

As a company AgileBits keeps up to date with all the latest releases of their target Operating Systems. Compatibility with OS X Lion was ready before Lion was officially released.

A while ago AgileBits adapted 1Password to use Dropbox. Together the two make a dynamite combination. If you set 1Password to store it's Keychain in Dropbox you will have your keychain available on any machine where you install 1Password and Dropbox.

With Apple signaling "End of Life" for Keychain, Mail and preference syncing when MobileMe is discontinued in June 2012 this seems to present an opportunity for AgileBits to extend the data it stores and syncs via Dropbox. 

Too many people dismiss the power of syncing but in this emerging post-pc world where we use multiple devices the Sync is the critical process that makes sure we have the data we need, when we need it. Just working with web apps is not the answer. There are still too many occasions where we can be disconnected from the cloud and need a local copy of contacts, and other information.

With the launch of OS X Lion Apple has quietly discontinued the stand alone iSync app. This was the way that users could integrate third party applications or non-apple devices, such as Nokia phones in to Address book and other Apple services. With the demise of iSync people will have to find other routes to sync their data and devices if they are not using Apple devices. If Apple is not careful they may in fact strengthen the hand of other players in this space, such as Google. I know I can sync my address and calendar data between Google and my MacBook. If I can sync my third party devices with Google I can replace the lost Apple Sync capability. 

A warning to Apple: iCloud is a major endeavor. Building a cloud-based sync service that will operate at scale across millions of devices is no small feat. However, Apple needs to provide the hooks to let other integrate in the iCloud ecosystem.

At the end of the day this is probably the main reason that MobileMe will live on until June 2012. That should give time for developers and Apple to migrate some of the end of life features to iCloud.

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