MobileMe Update Imminent As Apple Cloud Strategy Hardens


Apple is expected to update its MobileMe cloud storage offering, another recent move by the tech giant that shows it is getting serious about its cloud strategy.

While rumors of a MobileMe makeover have been swirling for months, a memo leaked to 9to5 Mac from a source within Apple shows that the $30 rebate on MobileMe and iWork that accompanied new Mac purchases is finished. The rebate gave Apple customers $30 off their purchase of the $99 MobileMe if the service was purchased alongside a new Mac or iOS device, and the same discount if iWork was bought with a new Mac.

"The 'Buy a Mac and Save $30 on iWork' and 'Buy a Mac and Save $30 on MobileMe' promotions will both end on April 18, 2011. Resellers must remove any reference to these promotions by close of business on that date," 9to5 Mac quoted from the leaked Apple memo. The deep-sixing of the rebate program for MobileMe follows a move by Apple to stop selling MobileMe in retail stores and making it only available online.

The new version of MobileMe could be announced as early as Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, slated to kick off June 6 at San Francisco's Moscone Center.

A re-tooled version of MobileMe jibes with rumors that Apple will launch the latest version of the service in June. Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple will launch a revamped version of MobileMe this year that could make the $99-per-year MobileMe offering a free service that would serve as a digital locker for media like photos, music and videos while eliminating the need to carry high-memory devices. A new MobileMe may also feature media streaming and a feature that lets users find friends and share locations.

Apple has also been said to be prepping a cloud-based version of its iTunes service, which could also be part of a MobileMe update.

An improved MobileMe would come on the heels of Amazon launching a pair of new cloud services with its Amazon Cloud Drive and Amazon Cloud Player, services which let users store digital content in the cloud and stream that content to various devices.

A refreshed MobileMe would also come as Apple sharpens its cloud computing strategy. Just last week, Apple posted a job listing seeking a Cloud Systems Software Engineer. The listing, which was later changed to indicates that Apple will form a small team to write software that "forms the foundation" of some of Apple's "most exciting new products and services." The posting adds that the ideal candidate will have experience "designing, implementing and supporting highly scalable applications and Web services" and will "collaborate with cross-functional engineering teams to define and implement some of the company's core backend platform frameworks and systems."

Apple also recently brought aboard a Microsoft cloud computing guru to help it hone its cloud offerings. Earlier this week, Microsoft confirmed for CRN that Kevin Timmons, its general manager of Datacenter Services, has left his post.

"Kevin Timmons, general manager of Datacenter Services, has decided to pursue other career opportunities and is no longer working at Microsoft. We appreciate the contributions he made to Microsoft during his time here," Dayne Sampson, corporate vice president of Global Foundation Services at Microsoft, said in a statement e-mailed to CRN.

While Microsoft would not say where Timmons is heading, a report from Data Center Knowledge cites industry sources saying that Timmons was wooed away from Microsoft by Apple.

Timmons was instrumental in Microsoft's build out of data centers to support its cloud computing initiatives.

His new duties are unclear, but it's likely that Timmons was tapped to help Apple bulk up its data center plays to accommodate more cloud offerings. Apple has already built a massive data center in North Carolina, which is expected to be fully operational come spring and could serve as the hub for Apple's cloud computing push.