Two years ago Apple introduced MobileMe. At the time I wrote a post called Apple Has No Business Charging for Mobile Me. My point was that people didn't want to pay $100 for a cloud service, that by all rights they should be getting for free. Folks pay a premium for Apple, and throwing in a service like MobileMe would have been a nice touch. As I wrote at the time complaining about the price of MobileMe:
"Apple should know its biggest asset is its customers' loyalty. It should be rewarding that loyalty, not trying to gouge a few more dollars from them. That just doesn’t make good business sense..."
It's possible that after two years, Apple may be catching up to my way of thinking. Renee Ritchie reports on TiPb that rumors suggest that Apple could be announcing a free MobileMe service at WWDC on Monday.
MobileMe Tiered Pricing Makes Sense
If Apple were to offer MobileMe for free, yet still wanted to keep part of the revenue stream, they could set up a free service with a certain amount of online storage space and a few other services such as an email address and a few web sites. Anyone who wanted more than that could pay on a tiered pricing system where you would get different levels of service at each price point. It's an approach that could work. (It's worth noting that you can buy additional online storage space today.)
Provide iTunes Purchase Backup Too
Almost three years ago, I wrote a blog post on my by Ron Miller blog called: A Modest Idea for Apple: Online iTunes Backup. Perhaps like free MobileMe, it's an idea whose time has has finally come. Three years later, the idea is actually even more compelling. Today, MobileMe does provide a way to recover your lost or stolen iPhone, and it backs it up to iTunes locally whenever you synch, but what about a cloud backup for your iTunes purchases, so that every app, movie, song or book you buy is collected in your own little personal backup folder, always there waiting to be recovered when needed. There have been rumors about some sort of cloud iTunes, although I'm not sure anyone has suggested there might be a backup system like mine.
Keep in Mind The Value of Pre-WWDC Rumors
It's important to remember that rumors fly prior to every major Apple event, some of which turn out to be at least somewhat accurate, and some that aren't even close. Ritchie suggests that subtle changes in the MobileMe Account tab portend that changes could be on the way (or it could be nothing). That's the trouble with Apple rumors, there is usually nothing solid to back them up, and in spite of several well publicized leaks lately, Apple tends to keep a tight lid on things prior to announcements.
Maybe Steve Jobs will surprise us on Monday by announcing a free MobileMe account for every customer or it's possible it could continue to cost $99 just as it does now. Stay tuned to find out.