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MobileMe subscription about to expire? Don't renew it just yet


If you've already paid the US$99 for Apple's MobileMe service, but your account is due for renewal within the next ten days or so, it might be a good idea to hold off on renewing it for now. Apple's rumored to be heavily revamping its MobileMe service this year, and we expect to hear announcements about the service upgrades at WWDC on June 6. Some rumors even suggest that parts of MobileMe may be available at no charge after the update.

It's been a perennial rumor that Apple will stop charging $99/year for much of its MobileMe service. The rumors have always suggested Apple will offer basic services (like email and over-the-air device syncing) for free, while paying subscribers will have access to things like website hosting, online photo galleries, storage options through iDisk, and now potentially wireless streaming of music via the rumored iCloud service. Year after year this rumor has failed to come to fruition, but many are hoping this is the year Apple will finally split MobileMe into two services: free/basic and subscription/full access. There's already precedent for making certain parts of MobileMe free. Find My iPhone/iPad used to be a service for MobileMe subscribers only, but last November Apple made it free to anyone with an iPad, iPhone 4 or current-gen iPod touch.

The bottom line is that if you're only making limited use of MobileMe's services right now and your account is set to expire within the next couple of weeks, wait to see what's in store at WWDC before you shell out another $99 for another year. You may or may not lose access to some MobileMe features as soon as your account expires; we've been hearing conflicting reports about this from some readers, suggesting the service is indeed due for an overhaul relatively soon. You'll still have access to email services for up to two weeks after your account expires, at which point Apple will supposedly throw the switch and delete all of your MobileMe data. That means if your account hasn't expired already, you're in good shape until WWDC.

Speaking only for myself, if MobileMe's email and device syncing services do indeed become free-to-all after WWDC, I'm not likely to pay for access anymore. I've made very limited use of iDisk -- it's absolutely terrible compared to Dropbox, especially the way iDisk behaves in the Mac OS X Finder -- and MobileMe's gallery service is cumbersome compared to other photo sharing services I've used. As for iCloud, I have pretty much zero interest in what I've heard of it thus far, because I don't believe the internet infrastructure where I live can handle the types of services iCloud will supposedly offer. On the other hand, if Apple knocks it out of the park with the MobileMe upgrade, I may still happily drop some cash on the service. It all depends on what we hear at WWDC.

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