The notMac Challenge is a recent effort that aims to create the incentive for developing a .Mac replacement in exchange for $10,000. From the official website:
Since Apple decided to start charging for dotMac, I’ve spent $495 to keep some useful files remotely accessible on my iDisk and sync my bookmarks, address book and calendar between computers. While I find these features incredibly useful and convenient, I have no need for any of dotMac’s web-based services, and as a result, I don’t think I’ve been getting a good value from Apple. I know that workarounds exist that allow one to take advantage of dotMac’s services without a dotMac account, but they require a level of technical proficiency that I just don’t have. I’ve no doubt there are a lot of people like me.
The goal of the notMac Challenge is to create the incentive for someone to make an alternative dotMac solution available for the general public. Since this is something that could benefit a large number of people in the Mac community, I figure what better way to create that incentive than to invite anyone interested to contribute to the reward.
To make the stakes even richer, I’ll match every contribution up to a total of $10,000. So, if you contribute $100, I’ll double it for a total of $200. Hopefully, in a short amount of time, the prize pool will be large enough to encourage someone out there to liberate the less technically literate of us from the obligation to pay Apple $99 a year.
Sounds neat, doesn’t it? It’ll be especially interesting to see what kinds of developers step up and how all of the administrivia works out assuming geographically separated developers who don’t know one another try to coordinate and manage the work to a schedule. Heck, just doing the “general contracting” for an effort like this could be quite time consuming if enough parties were involved. Still, $10,000 sounds pretty reasonable considering that much of this work could be pieced together with some existing high-quality applications and a relatively minor amount of custom scripting.
Of course, a fixed $10,000 prize doesn’t address the recurring cost of web hosting for thousands of potential users, so perhaps that figure is just for the initial development of an out-of-the-box notMac server?
In any event, I wish these folks the best of luck. It’s always exciting to root for the underdog.