On Friday, we got a rather nervous tip from reader Julian (echoed in this MacStories post) pointing to his Apple Discussions thread about the future of @mac.com addresses. The thread cited a conversation with an Apple support chat representative that seemed to indicate an imminent end-of-life for the vintage mac.com emails, with all incoming and outgoing mail being forced over to the equivalent me.com address.
Since the mac.com domain predated the July 2008 relaunch of Apple's web services as MobileMe by several years, many subscribers have never bothered to update all the various spots where their mac.com addresses are used, and the prospect of being pushed to do so is obviously a bit worrisome. It's not at all clear, however, that this is actually happening, despite the rather sharp level of anxiety.
Why the agita right now? As with most Apple news nowadays, it begins with the iPhone. In a subtle tweak to iOS 4.2, Apple changed the MobileMe account setup to only allow the me.com address if you're activating your mail account 'fresh' on the device.
While anyone who upgraded from 4.1 or earlier without deleting and reactivating accounts is completely unaffected, trying to set up a mac.com account under MobileMe on a 4.2 iPad or iPhone will always result in the me.com equivalent address being used for inbound and outbound mail. (Keep in mind that you will still get incoming mac.com mail regardless of the account setup, as the two addresses are linked to the same mailbox -- JoeyFatone@mac.com is the same as JoeyFatone@me.com as far as inbound traffic is concerned.)