High on iCloud, Apple slates MobileMe's demise

Angry fans of oft-mocked service say they've been cheated, abandoned as Apple names June 2012 shutoff

Apple on Monday made it official, saying it will pull the plug on its MobileMe sync and storage service in 2012.

Apple emailed MobileMe subscribers with the news, telling them it would shutter the service in just over a year.

"Your MobileMe subscription will be automatically extended through June 30, 2012, at no additional charge," Apple's email read. "After that date, MobileMe will no longer be available."

The new iCloud service, which CEO Steve Jobs unveiled earlier Monday, will effectively replace MobileMe this fall when Apple will also launch iOS 5, its next mobile operating system. iCloud will be free for all owners of Macs running Mac OS X 10.7, aka Lion, or of devices powered by iOS 5.

Jobs didn't sound unhappy that MobileMe was disappearing. "It wasn't our finest hour, just let me say that," Jobs said of MobileMe as he introduced iCloud.

MobileMe, which cost $99 per year, or $149 for a five-user Family Pack, stumbled after its 2008 launch, dogged by problems ranging from slow synchronization to an 11-day email outage.

Nor was the news unexpected. In February Apple pulled MobileMe from its online store, prompting speculation that a replacement was in the works.

Current MobileMe subscribers will be allowed to keep their email address when they shift to iCloud, and can move their email, contacts, calendar and bookmarks to the new service, said Apple.

But Apple did not spell out a future for MobileMe's iDisk -- a 20GB online storage account. Apparently, that data won't be transferable.

iCloud comes with just 5GB of storage space, and devotes that to email messages; documents produced by Apple's Pages, Numbers and Keynote applications; and back-ups of some data. According to what Apple's revealed about iCloud, it will have no online storage suitable for files such as Microsoft Office documents or Quicken backups, or any way to store and sync all kinds files, as services like Dropbox can.

MobileMe's demise, even though it's more than a year in the future, drove some Mac owners to vent on Apple's support forum.

On one thread, users who had just recently had their credit cards charged for a MobileMe renewal complained that they were paying for something that everyone -- including themselves -- would get for free when iCloud rolls out this fall.


Keith Shaw talks with Computerworld News Editor Ken Mingis about today's Apple developer conference announcements, including the new iCloud service, iOS 5 updates and Mac OS X Lion.

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