MacRumors has found additional evidence supporting the rumor that Apple will start offering MobileMe for free (or, at least a ‘lite’ version). Earlier this month, changes to iOS 4.2 hinted at the possibility that users would be able to create an Apple ID directly from their iDevice, or link it with their MobileMe account.
New evidence uncovered in recent iOS 4.2 builds and the iOS 4.2.1 golden master seed is suggesting, however, that Apple will be offering a free MobileMe tier to users. The evidence comes in the form of a new private framework known as AppleAccounts.framework that includes a series of device-specific error messages referring to free MobileMe accounts. In particular, the error messages include alerts regarding having reached “the maximum number of free accounts” for a given device and certain devices not being “qualified for free MobileMe service”.
Apple has been beefing up their data centers lately, supposedly for an iTunes streaming service, but it’s also possible that they are preparing for an influx of MobileMe users. Obviously, we would prefer both, but we will just have to wait and see. There have been fervorous debates for and against MobileMe, but since nearly all of the features gained from the $99 service have free alternatives, there is little incentive to pay a yearly fee. Apple may finally be realizing this, so there is a good chance that users will receive some sort of MobileMe membership bundled in with their iDevice.