Free MobileMe for Cloud-Based Media Sync?
Some persistent rumors about Apple making a free version of its MobileMe service have been boosted recently as users have noticed changes in how accounts are described in the Account Status preferences pane. Combined with some hints provided at Steve Jobs at D8 this week, there's speculation that Apple is getting ready to launch free MobileMe at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco next week.
MobileMe, Apple's $99 per year service, allows users to sync their data across multiple devices and offers services like MobileMe Gallery for photos and Back to My Mac for remote access. The price has been a limiting factor in Apple's ability to sell subscriptions, and rumors have been floating around in recent weeks
that Apple has been preparing a free membership option, perhaps with limited data storage and without some services like Find My iPhone and Find my iPad that would be an inducement for users to upgrade to full accounts. Steve Jobs made one of his typically vague pronouncements at the D8 conference hosted by AllThingsD this week. In his talk with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher
, Jobs observed that users "want to share... content that [they] bought amongst [their] various devices." While, as Jobs said, "you can do that today with a wire," he noted that "you can't do that without a wire," and stated that "we need to work harder on that. We need to do better. Anytime soon? We're working on it."
So some are speculating that what they are "working on" is MobileMe. Reports on 9to5Mac
have confirmed what some users have already noticed: the Account Type field on the Account Status MobileMe screen now shows "Full member" where it used to say "Individual" or "Family Pack." It's always risky to impute too much significance to minor changes like this, but with Apple's mysterious North Carolina data center coming up to full operation
without any explanation yet from Cupertino on what it's going to be used for, any changes to Apple's cloud-based offerings are going to draw attention.
And with the war with Google heating up steadily, Apple may be taking the fight to its rival by challenging it in the field where it has a dominant advantage: the cloud.
image via MacRumors forums