In the last 12 months I think at least twice the discussion of MobileMe becoming a free service has been brought up here at Touch Reviews (maybe even by me) and elsewhere in the media. If I don’t hear the rumour at least once a year I am surprised.
But, just like the iPhone, if we all talk about it enough, perhaps one day it will become true!
Apple doesn’t often give anything away free. And certainly not normally without losing some kind of lawsuit somewhere anyway! But it has to be said that there are increasing numbers of clues popping up both online and in recent Beta iOS builds that give this rumour some credence again.
Earlier “sightings” of options in iOS that allow users to create a “free” AppleID are a little bit of a red herring. It has always been possible to have a “free” Apple ID. In fact my personal Apple ID is used for any number of services from Apple. And if I cancelled MobileMe I would still need one.
I have personally seen some fairly strange package descriptions in my MobileMe account panel over the years when I have renewed. One year I had a “Complimentary Package” even though I had paid in full for it. And I have in fact even been gifted a year by Apple before now. On that occasion my annual package was still listed as a normal paid package though. So Apple does have, and already has experimented with different package designations for MobileMe internally.
MacRumous have uncovered some curious messages hidden inside system files of iOS which tend to suggest that Apple are building the possibility of dealing with free “MobileMe” accounts into their mobile OS. This is a little different from the free AppleID rumour, because the messages specifically mention a “free MobileMe service” in several of their strings.
Some people think Apple are going to make a limited amount of MobileMe’s functionality available to all. And that is possible.
In fact that certainly seems the case from one of the messages also found inside iOS 4.2..
This Apple ID cannot be used for MobileMe Mail, but you can use it for other MobileMe services.
Some see this as perhaps pointing to the syncing services that come as part of MobileMe being made free for all users.
Another option is that Apple will give 12 months subscription to MobileMe away with certain new products. This would make great sense from Apple’s point of view. MobileMe is an overpriced service, for what it actually delivers, and is being rapidly made to look more and more expensive by rival free services from other service providers. Like Google and the syncing service provided by them with Android OS.
To Apple, though, MobileMe is still a revenue stream, and a service which costs them money to provide. So still technically being able to provide it to customers with a dollar value attached to it might be important to Apple’s esteem and their bottom line. Specifically because if you only get a free 12 month MobileMe subscription with a new iPhone, iPad or Mac then you are going to be much more likely to buy at last one new product from Apple each year.
What do you think? Free for all? Or free with a catch? Or not free at all? Have your say in the comments!