When Apple (AAPL) introduces the 3G iPhone this summer, it could also be upgrading its .Mac email/storage service: As early as next month, .Mac subscribers could get full over-the-air synching of calendars, contacts, and email — like a consumer version of Microsoft’s (MSFT) Exchange service, The Unofficial Apple Weblog reports, citing an anonymous tipster.
The problem: We see nothing in TUAW’s report suggesting that Apple (AAPL) will stop charging a ridiculous $99 a year for the service. Yes, we understand that storage and bandwidth aren’t free. And there’s a dedicated, core audience who will spend $99 a year on anything with the Apple logo on it.
But need we remind you that Google’s (GOOG) GMail is free? And AOL (TWX), Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail (YHOO), etc.
With .Mac and the iPhone, Steve Jobs has a chance to get people even more tied in to Apple services. Which is what Apple is all about. (See: iTunes.) But until .Mac is free — at least the mainstream stuff like email, calendar synching, photo galleries, etc. — we think it will continue to be a small, niche service at best.