Apple said to launch free MobileMe in April

mobile-me-appleThe MobileMe rumor train is back up to full steam, with a new report from iLounge that Apple plans to release a free, overhauled version of its online storage service in April. The report matches earlier rumors that such changes to MobileMe were expected sometime this year.

According to iLounge senior editor Chalres Starrett, a “trusted” unnamed source, “who works for a major educational institution,” has told the publication that “the current version of MobileMe is no longer available, and that Apple is suggesting new students sign up for the 60-day trial to cover the gap between the final MobileMe shipment and the launch of the new version.”

All of this lines up with both things we already know — that Apple has, in fact, removed the ability to purchase the $99 version of MobileMe that was long available for download or in its stores — and unconfirmed rumors — that a revamped, free version of MobileMe is on its way.

In mid-February, the Wall Street Journal reported that MobileMe would eventually be re-released as a free service to all Apple customers. The new version would act as a digital online “locker” for the storage of various types of media, like music, pictures and video.

Adding further fuel to the new MobileMe rumor bonfire, Apple confirmed late last month that its new 500,000-square-foot data center in North Carolina — the company’s largest — would be at least partially devoted to the support of iTunes and MobilMe services.

This news re-ignited talk of a cloud-based iTunes, merged with MobileMe, which would allow users to store their music and video files online, and access them from any enabled mobile device (like the iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad). There is so far no verified evidence that such an iTunes upgrade will be announced anytime soon, or that plans for the service exists at all.

It must be made clear that today’s MobileMe news is also just rumor — but given the sheer amount of talk and corroborated rumors about a MobileMe overhaul, it would be surprising if Apple doesn’t announce something sometime soon.

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