MobileMe goes free?
Apple seems to have ceased sales of MobileMe direct to customers, and a revamp is both highly anticipated and overdue. Rumors have been building up, and center on a new free access business model, and the launch of iTunes streaming service as a "music locker" stored in user's MobileMe iDisk space in the cloud--possibly utilizing the North Carolina data center.
Now those rumors have acquired an extra momentum with suggestions from "informed sources" that Apple has closed a deal with Warner music, and then leveraged that fact in discussions with other labels. The closing date for these deals is seemingly close--Apple is rumored to be planning an April launch for the revamped MobileMe. The new service may well be free (or at least partly) and include more cloud-centric facilities for storing and sharing files of all sorts, from photos to business productivity files.
The rumored price for Apple's "music locker"? A very reasonable-sounding $20 per year.
Location, location, location (apps)
Apple's just advertised for two new staff to work in "iOS Maps Application" Development, positions to be based in Apple's HQ in Cupertino. The ad begs applicants to "come work for the team that revolutionized the mobile technology industry" to "define what computing looks like in a post-PC era." Most excitingly, the advert notes that "the Maps team is looking for an exceptional developer to join us in our mission to radically improve how people interact with maps and location-based services."
The words "radically improve" have set the tech world atwitter. Apple has always touted the location-based powers of the iPhone and iPad, integrating Google Maps into an app right from the get-go and applying for lots of patents in location-based systems. The company has been buying many location-based companies over the last several years, and may be moving away from using Google's code, prompting observers to wonder if an upcoming iOS revamp would see Apple launching advanced location-specific apps that use its own navigation codes.
Apple TV hardware?
Recent rumors hinted that Apple was looking into licensing its AirPlay protocols, enhanced for wireless streaming video powers, to third-party TV makers in the same way it does for streaming music currently--a move that would allow Apple to sneak into the TV market.
Now the oft-quoted "analyst" crowd has come up with some new information that hints Apple is actually working on TV hardware of its own, a Smart TV that's connected to the Net to enable app and video content downloads and streaming, DVR powers, and perhaps FaceTime video conferencing. According to Katy Hubert of Morgan Stanley, the motivation for a new Apple product in a new market is (no surprise) the cash: If it can tap a mere 1% of the HDTV business by 2013 then it'll add $4 billion in revenues to Apple's already impressive finances.
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