Feb 24

MobileMeSince it was first introduced in 2008, Apple’s MobileMe service has been criticized for its $100 yearly price tag – and for good reason.  Many of its sync features are available from competitors, most notably Google, free of charge.  And, truth be told, the service has never had what you would call a sterling performance record.

But competition has a way of leveling things out sooner or later – and that time may come sooner rather than later to MobileMe.

Today Apple announced, quietly, that it will discontinue the boxed version of MobileMe. These boxes contained a code used to activate the service for a year, so this in itself is no big thing – though having a box to display and sell at retail stores (as it does with AppleCare plans) gives the service added visibility when Apple users are shopping in stores.  

But when you couple this news with recent reports that Apple is planning a complete overhaul of MobileMe, making it a “free service that would serve as a ‘locker’ for personal memorabilia such as photos, music and videos,” it seems clear that something more than a transition away from a physical product is afoot.

When Apple announces the 2nd Gen iPad next week, it is quite possible it will also announce MobileMe’s transition to a free service, or perhaps a tiered service with a free version in addition to a paid version for more Cloud storage space and/or features.  Maybe the change would come later with the iPhone 5, but given the fact that the box versions are being discontinued now, it would be odd for the change not to take place until June or July.

If MobileMe is, in fact, transitioning to a free service, it’s about time, and seems like the right move for Apple to attract more users to its heretofore crazily overpriced service. 

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