The one feature I was most anticipating on the iPhone 3G was Exchange support. I'm part of the group that doesn't access corporate e-mail via Exchange, but rather a smaller hosted solution that still gives me the benefits of Exchange, without the headaches and cost of running my own server. When <a href="http://www.informationweek.com/news/personal_tech/iphone/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=208803223">MobileMe was introduced</a>, I was faced with the decision I think others found themselves in, whi

Justin Montgomery, Contributor

July 16, 2008

2 Min Read

The one feature I was most anticipating on the iPhone 3G was Exchange support. I'm part of the group that doesn't access corporate e-mail via Exchange, but rather a smaller hosted solution that still gives me the benefits of Exchange, without the headaches and cost of running my own server. When MobileMe was introduced, I was faced with the decision I think others found themselves in, which is: Do I switch to MobileMe, or keep my hosted Exchange service?As soon as the news broke about Exchange support for the iPhone, companies that offer hosted Exchange were scrambling to make sure their service would be supported. I was one of the brave souls that upgraded my iPhone 1.0 with the 2.0 software on the July 10, and the first thing I tested was the compatibility with my hosted Exchange services from SherWeb.

Upon entering my Exchange server information copied directly from my WinMo Smartphone, I waited to see if anything would happen. Luckily, within seconds, it was downloading my mail, contacts, calendar, and folders list. After it was all said and done, it worked and has continued to work perfectly ever since.

This raised the question of whether MobileMe is worth its weight when compared to tried-and-true Exchange support, especially when a hosted version costs nearly the same as a MobileMe account. I pay $8.95 per month, per user, for my Exchange account, which comes out to a little more than MobileMe costs at $99 per year.

Comparatively, I haven't had the chance to play around with a MobileMe-powered iPhone, but I have compared the push aspect of my Exchange server with all the devices and clients I currently have connected to it. I've got two PCs, two laptops, a Samsung Blackjack running Windows Mobile 5, and now an iPhone 3G all hooked to my server, and surprisingly, the iPhone is always first to receive the updates from the server. Every time an e-mail is received, the iPhone is the first to respond, followed by all the other clients. Similarly, every time I update my calendar or contacts list, the information is pushed to the server and made available much faster then when updated in even Outlook on my PC. In other words, I'm highly impressed by the push-and-pull aspect of the iPhone's ActiveSync; it works much better than I was anticipating.

With all the reported problems coming from recent MobileMe subscribers and the fact that it doesn't offer true "push" technology from PCs and Macs (yet) makes me wonder why anyone other than true Apple fans would consider it before it's been debugged and tested thoroughly. I realize that after it's been on the market for a while, and its user base grows, it will become more of a competitor, but for now I'll stick with my hosted Exchange.

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