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Friday, May 30, 2008, 07:00 am PT (10:00 am ET)

Apple may re-brand .Mac internet service

Apple's .Mac online subscription service, often criticized for its lack of truly compelling features and steep prices to boot, could soon get a face lift and re-branding, findings in some of the company's latest software releases seem to suggest.

Daring Fireball is already onto the breadcrumb trail which began last week with Russian-language site Deep Apple discovering some peculiar changes to the "Localizable.strings" resource in Mac OS X 10.5.3.

Specifically, the site noted that strings related to iCal now include a wildcard placeholder for the .Mac name rather than a hardcoding of the name itself. This is changed from Mac OS X 10.5.2, the site added.

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


Inspired by Deep Apple, another site by the name of Blogging Robots picked up on on trail and discovered that the same wildcard holders had been embedded into the code for both the new versions of Safari and Mail.app.

Mobile Me


/* Title of .Mac alert sheet, with .Mac brand name subsituted */
“You need a %@ account that has syncing enabled” = “You need a %@ account that has syncing enabled”;

/* Title of button used to open the .Mac system preference pane. */
“AOS_SYNC_BUTTON_FORMAT” = “%@…”;
/* Descriptive text for .Mac Sync. */
“AOS_SYNC_FORMAT” = “Use %@ to synchronize Accounts, Rules, Notes, Signatures, and Smart Mailboxes.”;


The site added that the three applications appear to be retrieving the .Mac name from a CoreServices system file that could easily be infused with a new service name via a future software update, "and — boom! — all your apps will have the new name."

On-again, off-again rumors have pegged Apple to be working on an overhaul to .Mac that would appear around mid-year. Some tipsters have even gone as far as to suggest the company would tie the service into its 3G iPhone plans, offering a discount on the $99 per-year subscription fee for those customers who purchase both items.

Should that be the case, .Mac would suddenly seem like an odd brand for a service positioned at millions of iPhone wielding Windows users, Daring Fireball notes. As such, the site points to AppleInsider's January 2006 discovery of Apple's "Mobile Me" trademark as a likely candidate for a re-branding.

At the time, it was noted that Apple filed for the Mobile Me mark under four distinct categorizations, the most interesting of which being:

"Telecommunication services; electronic transmission and retrieval of data, images, audio, video and documents, including text, cards, letters, messages, mail, animations, and electronic mail, over local or global communications networks, including the internet, intranets, extranets, television, mobile communication, cellular and satellite networks; electronic transmission of computer software over local or global communications networks, including the internet, intranets, extranets, television, mobile communication, cellular, and satellite networks; electronic mail services; facsimile transmission; web site portal services; providing access to databases and local or global communications networks, including the internet, intranets, extranets, television, mobile communication, cellular, and satellite networks; internet service provider services; message transmission services, namely, electronic transmission of messages; telecommunication services for the dissemination of information by mobile telephone, namely the transmission of data to mobile telephones; mobile telephone communication services."


Meanwhile, the MobileMe.com domain name has been parked for some time under Apple's traditional domain registrar, Mark Monitor. Its records were updated less than two months ago. In itself, that doesn't say much. But the (below) resource photos also recently taken by Blogging Robots from a recent iPhone SDK build make things a bit more interesting:

Mobile Me


Mobile Me