The Big .Mac Mystery

On the heels of the WWDC next week, comes news of a possible, ever-so-slight shift in strategy on the part of Apple. From the New York Times Bits Blog:

…there is a flurry of speculation about improvements to a minor icon an the Apple Pantheon: the .Mac online service. For six years, .Mac has been a $100 a year bundle of handy Internet services, now including e-mail, online hosting, backup, photo sharing, and tools to synchronize calendars and address books. Industry reports say Apple has between 1 million and 2 million subscribers.”

“Now is certainly a great time to expand and rename .Mac. Much of the energy in software development is around online applications, which would be a logical evolution for Apple’s iLife and iWork software. Moreover, the iPhone and iPod Touch are particularly suited to services that blend small local applications with storage and other processing handled on an Internet server.

I find this analysis much more consistent with my own than with Forrester Research’s speculation about Apple’s shift towards home entertainment services. The gorgeously designed, yet deceptively useful devices that are entering the marketplace courtesy of Jobs et al are all but useless without some hefty services to make them sustainably unique.

As an example, I was aghast to discover that I couldn’t directly subscribe to a podcast on my iPhone, with Apple preferring me to sync through iTunes on the desktop. There is a third-party app that will let me download and listen to podcasts over my data or WiFi connection, but Apple does not natively support it… This is due, I believe, to Apple wanting to maintain control over what content enters its media player. A .ME service suite (with a web-service-based iTunes) will take us a long way towards the ubiquity of service that Mr. Hansell is speaking about.

Will Steve Jobs Set Me Free? – NY Times Bits

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