Much has been made over the past few months about the problems with Apple’s new “everything” service, “MobileMe,” which purports to take care of all of your online needs in one swoop for $99 a year: mail, photos, file storage, and calender. They’d be pretty close to being correct, too – give a person a web browser and those tools, and that’s pretty much all 70% of the planet wants to do with the Internet. However, the numerous bugs that plagued MobileMe since its launch have been so bad that Apple has had to continuously apologize and keep adding on free periods onto the initial 60-day free trial period.

I signed up at the day after it was offered so I could get a nifty little “” account (who doesn’t love short domain names when you have to type email addresses?) with Apple’s free trial offer. Instantly, I was plagued with bugs in Firefox 3.0 like being unable to log on, pages not rendering properly, being locked out of my account, and emails not being received from my new account. Since I was just testing it out anyway, I just stopped using it, sorely glad that I hadn’t actually paid money for the hunk of junk. But this led me to another thought: who wants to pay for email anymore?

I mean – seriously? $99 a year for a unified way to do what Google and Flickr can already do? The file storage, which is the obvious turnover from Apple’s now-defunct “.Mac” service, used to be a paid-for option anyway in those days, along with your .Mac email address. Yippee Skippee, another email address. Anyone with any sense doesn’t use web-based email clients anymore anyway, as they all suck and they all do the same thing (Gmail being the notable exception, as it sucks somewhat less and they tried to do something new with the concept of email, converting them into “conversations” instead).

So here’s my proposition to Apple: Divide and conquer, same as you did with iTunes and the original iPod – give out the cheap and easy stuff for free (the software) so that they flock to your hardware (the iPod Touch and the iPhone). Make a MobileMe and a MobileMe Premium – the difference is that the Premium would have the only thing worth paying money for: the online file storage, and maybe the pictures. The “basic” MobileMe service could be provided for free thanks to a registration code inside the box with your iPod Touch or iPhone, or at a relatively cheap price if you just wanted to buy it separately. You could keep charging the $99 for offering what MobileMe just offers now, except rebranded as “Premium.”

It’s easy for me to say this, because I just really want a free way to easily sync my mobile devices with a big calendar system in the sky, and a concise account name like mine would be an added, small bonus. I don’t need or want online photo hosting or file storage from Apple, but I’m sure some people will. Plus, this would be a good way for Apple to apologize to its loyalists for screwing them over with the poor quality of the original released service.

Here’s the other gripe that happened to be on my mind tonight as I wrestled with the slow program on the iPod – why didn’t Apple write support into iTunes 7 for synchronizing Contacts, Bookmarks, and Email Accounts with Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird? On my PC, it only offers syncing with “Windows Address Book,” (who uses that??), Internet Explorer, and Outlook/Outlook Express. Why didn’t Apple use a product they knew would have massive sales to put another slap in the face of their biggest rival? I haven’t used a major Microsoft product besides Windows and Office for years, and it would be so nice to just let iTunes take care of setting up all of my accounts for me. As a open-source “sideliner” in the battle between Windows and Apple, the well-deserving Mozilla Foundation would benefit from millions of users saying “huh, I should give Firefox a try.” Of course, perhaps Apple was worried it backfire in their quest to get Safari on every computer, PC or Mac. Limiting choices is a stupid reason…but we are talking about a company whose mobile devices can’t even natively SSH…

Oh well. Maybe Apple will get that beef of mine corrected in the upcoming iTunes 8.0, which has rumors about it flying that it’ll be released in just a few short weeks.