I know I’d said I wouldn’t switch to an iPhone from my BlackBerry, essentially because i wasn’t happy that Apple had launched it without it being able to sync data over-the-air, something the BlackBerry has been able to do for years. I found it unacceptable to have to physically connect my phone to my Mac to do this. It felt like going back to an earlier, less civilised age.
The guys at the Orange VIP team, however, were clearly determined to get me as an early adopter on the day when the iPhone launched in France, six months later than in the US. They promised that they’d take it back if I wasn’t delighted with it. So I ended up going to collect one that they had kept for me at place de la Madeleine.
I felt locked into my BlackBerry, because no one else offered push. But I still found it very irritating to use: it required a sync with a prehistoric, proprietary Microsoft Exchange server. Still, so long as Google Mail didn’t offer IMAP, there was a second reason for sticking with my current setup.
This is when I discovered that Google has actually been quietly deploying IMAP in the last few weeks. This also applies to Google Apps accounts using their own domain rather than an @gmail address. This makes Google Mail the best email option, because if you host your server with Google Apps, you retain control of your email address, which you can walk away with at any time, combined with the benefits of a Google server, massive storage (25GB on a paid Google Apps server), spam control that “just works”, IMAP access and the best email search I know of.
The iPhone/Gmail combination means I’ve finally been able to kiss Bill Gates and Outlook goodbye. The only price to pay for this is lack of sync. This would have been very tiresome a few months ago, but isn’t a major issue at present because I don’t have that many appointments right now. I’ve transferred the email addresses to Google, migrated existing emails and switched contacts and calendar items to Address Book and iCal. It’s a much cleaner setup, and also a much cheaper one: BlackBerry and Outlook were expensive.
I can’t wait for the iPhone to offer over-the-air sync. They’ve said they’re working on this.