I asked aloud on Twitter a few days ago (last week?) if anyone had confirmation of Apple planning to do away with the iWeb hosting they have been providing to MobileMe users. Today it seems I am one step closer to confirmation of this thought, with the publication of a purported email from Steve Jobs.
This email (if authentic) confirms that iWeb and the MobileMe hosting service is soon to be no more (one would guess in June of 2012 when MobileMe is said to be ending).
Most of you reading this will probably be surprised to know that I always thought iWeb + MobileMe hosting was a great offering. Apple basically gave everyone a dead simple way to host their own website, with little to no knowledge of webservers needed.
It is still one of the only tools that you can use that will allow someone who doesn’t know a lick of html to make a decent to good looking website.1
I know plenty of “web developers” who use iWeb as their only tool and I am glad they will be going away, but for the average Mac user this is not a good thing.
The dismissal of iWeb and the subsequent hosted MobileMe websites is bad news for families that have little desire to hire people to create a full scale site, and even less desire to learn how to do it themselves (right or wrong for better or worse). It is one of the few things that Apple is doing that isn’t very user friendly.
This is also an interesting philosophical change for Apple, and truly represents what they are trying to create with iCloud. Everything about MobileMe was pushed based — most certainly iWeb was — what though will replace this functionality when we get iCloud?
I think in part Apple is deciding that it doesn’t want to be the “sharing” hub for it’s users — rather it wants to be the creation platform and force opportunities for people to fill the easy web-hosting needs that MobileMe will be creating.
The problem though: there is no other easy solution for users that mimics what you can do with iWeb and MobileMe and that is precisely because of the deep integration Apple created. Every other option takes away some control from the user, or adds in a layer of pre-requisite knowledge that most users don’t have.
(e.g. Have you seen how dead simple it is to add a dynamic Google Map in an iWeb based site? Try telling a user how to do that on say, SquareSpace or WordPress.com.)
It’s the Future, Baby
There isn’t much we can do about this change. Most people simply won’t care, or more likely, will quickly get over the fact that they can’t make pre-designed websites fast and cheap anymore.
The problem though is that this is not the right future we should be pursuing. From the sound of it Apple will be willing to host all your media files, mobile backups, and emails — but if you want to build something that others can see, well, you are S.O.L.
That is the crux of the issue for me: I want people to be encouraged to share what they do — which is exactly what Apple did with MobileMe galleries and websites. Apple seems to be moving away from that.
Apple is seemingly not wanting to do this anymore — this at the exact time I think they should be moving towards such services.
Not good in the sense that the code is pretty, or that it renders perfectly on every device. Good in the sense that it doesn’t look like utter crap in the way that GeoCities [RIP] did. ↩