.Mac name change, revamp in the works? Mobile Me?

Some keen-eyed code diggers have uncovered clues seeming to suggest that Apple’s online syncing service .Mac will undergo a name change shortly. We’ll probably see a revamp, too, since it’s unlikely that Apple would change the service’s name without a complete overhaul (which it is due for).

A .Mac revamp was on my recent list of possibilities for wild card announcements we could see beyond the 3G iPhone at Apple’s upcoming Worldwide Developer’s Conference.

As Daring Fireball notes, prior to the recent OS X 10.5.3 operating system update, Apple had hard-coded the name .Mac into its code. That name has now been replaced with a placeholder (“%@”), and the Russian site Deep Apple found the following commented-out statement in the code:

/* Label of the .Mac button in iCal’s General preferences. %@ is the new name of Apple’s online service (was .Mac) (remove -XX02) */

There’s speculation by way of old Apple patent filings that the new name could be “Mobile Me” — which sounds pretty lame to me, but still better than .Mac.

.Mac is Apple’s online syncing service that allows users to store data on its servers for both backup purposes and to sync files between multiple computers. It’s a great idea in theory and very easy to use in practice; unfortunately the service has a history of being underpowered and overpriced.

The service currently costs $99 to use for one year, which gives you 10 gigabytes of storage. (Before an update last summer, the service only gave users one gigabyte.) By comparison, AOL’s Xdrive and Microsoft’s Windows Live SkyDrive offer five gigabytes of storage for free. A similar free service code-named “Platypus” or “Gdrive” has been rumored to be in the works from Google as well.

Some have wondered if the next version of the iPhone software (to be launched at WWDC) wouldn’t have support for this service built-in. As Daring Fireball also notes, that would seem to make sense given that we know push syncing is coming with the iPhone 2.0 software update — why not just revamp the entire wireless sync system in the process?

One rumor that’s always fun to trot out when talking about .Mac is the thought that Apple could team up with Google to launch some kind of ultimate cloud-based syncing service.

Update: Blogging Robots has uncovered further evidence that the new name of .Mac could in fact be Mobile Me. There are references to the name in the iPhone 2.0 SDK, and the domain name was taken over by Apple last year.


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