This article originally appeared in TidBITS on 2011-06-13 at 4:04 p.m.
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MobileMe-to-iCloud Transition Messaging Provokes Confusion

by Glenn Fleishman

Plans for MobileMe never seem to go right. Its launch in mid-2008, as a transition from the previous .Mac service, was riddled with failures, data loss, and confusion (see “MobileMe Fails to Launch Well, But Finally Launches [1],” 12 July 2008). Steve Jobs, according to a recent Fortune report [2], berated the MobileMe team and then replaced the group’s head during a meeting at that time.

And now we’re partying like it’s 2008 once again. Immediately on the heels of the Worldwide Developer Conference announcement of iCloud, iOS 5, and the ship date for Lion, Apple sent email to MobileMe subscribers, theoretically explaining the situation. (For our initial coverage, see “What Happens to MobileMe” in “iCloud Rolls In, Extended Forecast Calls for Disruption [3],” 6 June 2011.)

In short, Apple extended all current subscriptions through 30 June 2012 for free, and suspended signups for new customers. In a support article, Apple said more details would be available when iCloud becomes available “this fall” [4] (the third quarter of 2011), but that leaves months of confusion. Why not answer questions more clearly now and avoid customer frustration and confusion? It’s the Apple way, sometimes. Unfortunately, so much secrecy begets a culture in which clarity is the enemy of strategy.

The confusion was intensified by a report in This Is My Next [5], the Engadget team’s post-AOL project, in which Joshua Topolsky writes,

Let’s be clear about what happens when iCloud goes live — according to what was described on stage at the event, and what I’ve confirmed with Apple PR — the service will effectively replace the current web offerings of MobileMe. That means that when the cutoff date of June 30, 2012 comes around for users, the web-based email client, calendar, contacts app, and other components of the web suite will cease to exist. You will no longer be able to log in and check your mail through a browser, change calendar events, or edit contacts.

We have a query into Apple PR ourselves to find out whether Topolsky is characterizing that correctly. If so, this will be a big loss. If you lack access to a Mac or iOS device with which you sync mail, calendar events, and contacts, you’ll be cut off from your data.

Topolsky’s claims seem to be contradicted by other reports, such as one about Apple testing freshly written iCloud-based Web apps on its intranet. MacRumors just posted a screen capture of an iCloud invitation to a calendar that one of its readers appears to have generated using an iOS 5 beta.

Regardless of the future status of Web apps, a number of questions surround other current MobileMe-related services:

This is the list we’ve come up with so far. What other questions do you have about using MobileMe before the release of iCloud? And what other concerns do you have for those MobileMe-hosted data and services that Apple hasn’t yet discussed?