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.