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Apple may offer MobileMe for free to fight Google

updated 02:25 pm EDT, Mon May 10, 2010

MobileMe would give iPhone edge over Android

A tentative new rumor asserts that Apple may turn MobileMe into a free service. The plan would drop the $99 annual fee and let anyone with an iPad, iPod, iPhone or Mac get the online sync service for free. The MDN contact wouldn't give a launch window but hinted at it coming "sooner than later" with the launch depending on "certain facilities" going live on time.

The rumor is entirely unconfirmed at this point and could readily prove inaccurate. However, it coincides with Apple rapidly developing its new North Carolina data center and gaining much more capacity to provide online services than it has in the past. Its exact purpose has never been discussed but could include streaming iTunes on the web as well as future developments.

Free MobileMe access would likely be a shot across the bow of Google, for whom online sync has been an inherent feature in most of its software. Android users can sync accounts and contacts for free through Google's existing services. Apple handheld owners can already sync Google features to some extent but don't have the live updating of more unless they use Exchange or MobileMe. On the desktop, both Chrome and Safari can sync bookmarks through their respective services, but such syncs aren't ubiquitous in mobile browsers.

A free service would match this and add a few features that aren't present on Android, such as online storage space through iDisk and the Find My iPad/iPhone tracker to help locate a missing device.

by MacNN Staff



  1. rvhernandez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Well, duh?!

    iTools was a free benefit of buying/owning a Mac. It should have always stayed free to owners of Apple products.

  1. qazwart

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Wrong Approach

    Apple should sell MobileMe at $9.95 per month or $99 per year, but then give owners of Apple products two to three free years of MobileMe (depending upon purchase: iPod Touch/iPhone = 2 years/ iPad and Macs = 3 years). Then, you can advertise that Macs come with $300 worth of MobileMe.

    Then, redesign MobileMe to be indispensable. Provide 100 Gb of backup storage. Provide Dropbox like services. Provide social networking connections. Provide file sharing. Come up with social networking services. Have location services for MacBooks much like Undercover or Project Prey do. Get people absolutely addicted to MobileMe.

    After 2 or 3 years, people will have three choices: Stop getting MobileMe, Pay the $9.99 per month charge, or buy a new Mac/iPhone. The first choice will mean cutting your dependence upon a service you probably found indispensable. The second one at $9.99 per month sounds "reasonable", but the third option -- buying a new Mac/iPhone will look very nice.

    "Oops, my MobileMe account is about to expire. Damn. I need it too much to let it drop. I guess I could pay the $9.99 per month. But, you know, my MacBook is a bit old, and those new MacBooks are really slick and much faster than mine. I could use a faster machine with more memory. Ooh! Look how shiny those new MacBooks are! Hmmm... my kid wants a MacBook. Maybe I could give them mine, and buy a new one for myself. Yes, that makes perfect sense!"

    The idea is to use MobileMe to drive Apple sales. MobileMe costs Apple very little in resources, but could end up being a great way to drive sales for Apple devices.

  1. bjojade

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Free with purchase

    I agree with the concept of a free with purchase plan.

    I wouldn't want the service for free if it meant now I get inundated with ads like happens with the other services. The huge selling point of MobileMe is that it is relatively ad free. It's just there and it WORKS for me.

  1. kkthompson

    Joined: Dec 1969



    They need to do this desperately. It's so obvious they need a cloud service for all the devices. And go buy Dropbox while you're at it.

  1. Woode

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I remember when iTools was free. I liked it a lot, then Apple turned it into .Mac or whatever, and started charging. I had it for a year, but then couldn't justify the hundred-dollar fee. I still haven't figured out why Apple charges for it, since there are so many other similar services that are free.

    I'm really feeling that MobileMe would be useful now to keep my Mac, iPhone and iPad in sync, though. I hope they do go free. I'll hold off a bit and see if this rumor pans out by WWDC, if not, I guess I'll jump in.

  1. Flying Meat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Meh. Don't need it.

    Even free. I just don't trust "the cloud". I'm quite capable of loosing my own data, thankyouverymuch. ;)

  1. chas_m


    +6 and

    I like qazwart's entire post, except for the monthly fee part. I don't think that's going to happen, as it makes it too easy to opt-out. Apple's not a "nickel-and-dime" type company.

    But yeah, a free year of MobileMe with purchase (and maybe two MORE free years if you buy AppleCare!) might be a good approach. Perhaps they'd even offer some seriously kick-a** extras (like much larger storage, "pro" style web hosting etc) for those willing to pony up a yearly fee.

    Something like that could happen.

  1. charlituna

    Joined: Dec 1969


    no lies, and it won't all be free

    for off to those claiming Apple lied. they didn't "for life" means the life of the service. not your life. the laws back this up

    second. IF they go for a free service it won't be everything. it would be the sync stuff, find my whatever and email at most. with a space limit of say 5GB. if they do the music streaming that would probably be in there also but I wouldn't be shocked if it only includes unlimited access to itunes purchased music only.

    the file storage, website etc would still be a paid service. cause service space does cost money

    that said, I think that that kind of system would work.

  1. Tofino

    Joined: Dec 1969


    worth money...

    while i have paid for mobileme since the days of .mac and find it worth the money, i think that making it free would be a great way to get it adopted by the masses. the service works well and is a no-brainer (in my opinion) if you use more than one computer and any iDevice.

    i'd like it to be more group aware, as even the family pack is not capable to have shared calendars that can be edited by more than the owner. maybe that's the way forward - make the basic service free, but offer a group aware package at a reasonable cost. it would be a hit with small businesses that now have to go through google or third party tools to add this functionality. being able to use mail aliases properly (without jumping through hoops) on the iphone would also be near the top of my list for improvements.

    there are alternatives to each of the components, but not one service that does it all. i would like to see more granular control over what gets synched and i think that idisk could use some improvements, but over all i think it's a good product.

    making it free will make it better!

  1. bleee

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Wasn't that good when it was Pay...

    I pay for mobile me right now, and the service to be honest isn't that great. The Web Mail interface is SLOW and clunky, gmail runs circles around it.

    The dumbest bug since the relaunch... when you click the send button on an email it doesn't disable the button or give you any feed back when it's sending... so a user might assume that they didn't click the button when infact they did and if they click it again it sends the same email twice.

    iDisk is a JOKE compared to drop box... Over all Mobile Me was a great idea poorly executed. As an example the majority of the office suites integrate with google docs or drop box while very few of them integrate with Mobile Me iDisk.

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