Whenever we release a new Take Control book, we realize that it will eventually need an update (whether small or large), and that one day it will probably become obsolete. We always hope that we can enjoy at least a few months of sales before Apple sends us back to the drawing board to realign the manuscript with their latest reality - after all, we're already busy working on the next set of titles.
Well, the second edition of my "Take Control of .Mac" was published last week - and if recent rumors prove to be true, the book might already be just days away from needing an update!
I'd been planning this major overhaul to one of my longest books for quite some time, largely to update it with information on iLife '08 and Leopard. I didn't notice anything significantly new relating to .Mac in Mac OS X 10.5.3, released just a day before my book, that seemed to warrant any last-minute changes.
But now comes a string of reports that Apple may be on the verge of renaming .Mac. Apparently the first hint came more than a week ago on the Russian-language site Deep Apple, on which there's a screenshot of some strings buried in a pre-release version of iCal that imply .Mac is going to get a new name. This discovery was followed up, after the final release of 10.5.3, with a post on Blogging Robots providing similar information found in the new versions of Safari and Mail. As John Gruber reported in Daring Fireball, Apple has a trademark for the name "Mobile Me," and since Apple may want to extend aspects of .Mac to devices like the iPhone and iPod touch that are not Macs, perhaps that's what they call the rebranded service.
Or maybe "Mobile Me" is just one face of a forthcoming Apple service. Apple has also registered the domain me.com as well as a series of domains ending in ".me" (nominally the top-level domain for Montenegro) - including apple.me, ipod.me, and itunes.me. So the new service could conceivably be called - shudder - "Me" or ".Me" or something similarly annoying.
My feelings about this matter are as follows:
- I've always thought that ".Mac" was a silly name, and would be glad to see it replaced with almost anything else, though changing the name to either "Me" or ".Me" would be, in my opinion, making a bad matter worse.
- "Mobile Me" is only very slightly less silly, and it reminds me worryingly of Windows Me, which even die-hard Windows fans thought was a ridiculous follow-up to Windows 98. (As noted in Wikipedia, "A PC World article dubbed Windows Me the "Mistake Edition" and listed it as the fourth 'Worst Tech Product of All Time.'" Just saying.) Adam Engst mentioned that his thoughts about the name went in a different, but equally unfortunate direction. He said "Mobile Me" evoked an unholy marriage of the Mini-Me character from the Austin Powers movies and the saccharine My Little Pony toys. Eww.
- I would be slightly irritated to have to do a massive find-and-replace to update my book, especially if it messed up all the page breaks, which any name longer than four characters will do. I'd get over it, however.
- I would be more than slightly irritated to have to completely revise the book less than two weeks after its release, if it turns out that (as Gruber speculates) the impending change involves much more than just the name, but includes entirely new services. I'd be very glad for .Mac (or Mobile Me or whatever) to have more capabilities, of course, just not very glad to have to document them all right now.
Of course, as of today, we have nothing but rumor to go on. We don't know if a change will occur, or of what sort, or when - though smart money is on something happening at Apple's upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference, which begins 09-Jun-08.
If yet another update to "Take Control of .Mac" is indeed needed in a couple of weeks, needless to say, I'll set aside my irritation and get right on it. But if the name changes to "Me," I hereby preemptively forbid anyone to make fun of the title "Take Control of Me."