Apple has just announced that it is phasing out a few of its internet-based services. The announcement on their website says:
The core services provided by MobileMe have been rewritten to work seamlessly with iCloud. MobileMe will no longer be available as a paid sync service. If you had an active MobileMe account as of June 6, 2011, your service has been extended through June 30, 2012, at no additional charge. After that date, the MobileMe service will no longer be available.
iCloud is free for iOS 5 and OS X Lion users.
Simultaneously, Apple emailed users of the iWork.com informing them that the service will be shut down 31 July 2012.
For years Apple has insisted on keeping its own mail and file-exchange services on a paid subscription basis. First, it was Mac.com. Then Mac.com changed to MobileMe and iWork'09 suite got a paid file-exchange service called iWork.com.
Some embraced it, others just ignored these paid services. They hardly offered anything of substantial value that wasn't already available free with Google or Facebook. Large iWork documents, while not accepted by some file-transfer services, can be uploaded to Google Documents. Smaller projects can be shuttled via email in Mac OSX versions beginning with OS 10.5.
Still, I know serious professional publishers who have been using iWork.com for advertisers to proof their ads. Dropping this service will inconvenience those who have relied on it but in broad terms the step is welcome.
With iCloud becoming free the competition with Google and others enters a new stage.
iWork as a productivity suite continues even though it hasn't been upgraded for desktop computers, while for iOS new updates are being released. I can only suspect that Apple is developing iWork towards wider adaptability for mobile devices such as iPad and iPhone. One important sign of this was the introduction of ePub format to iWork/Pages in 2010. ePub format was designed for internet publishing and is already revolutionising the way publishers operate in a digital world.
Newer versions of Mac OS, iCloud and iOS will show how this strategy is developing. OSX Mountain Lion is expected to be released in the summer of 2012.
See this previous article: 'Writers United: ePub update for Pages'.