Today in Apple history: MobileMe gets to R.I.P.

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MobileMe
So long, MobileMe.
Photo: Apple

July 1: Today in Apple history: Apple shuts down MobileMe web service, pushes iCloud July 1, 2012: Apple shuts down its MobileMe web service, pushing users to switch to iCloud.

Launched in 2008, MobileMe was a subscription-based suite of online services and software created by Apple. It included features like Find my iPhone, a MobileMe photo gallery, chat facilities, online calendar, storage and other cloud-based services. After letting it limp along for four years, Cupertino finally decides to pull the plug, giving MobileMe users until the end of July to remove their data from the service.

MobileMe: A failed iCloud precursor

Apple’s ill-fated iCloud precursor was an early attempt at running a cloud-based subscription service. Unlike today’s monthly offerings, Apple priced MobileMe at $99 as a one-off payment for an individual plan or $149 for a Family Pack. Cupertino also offered top-up options for those wanting to add storage.

MobileMe was part of Steve Jobs’ “digital hub” strategy, announced soon after his return to Apple in the late 1990s. Apple had experimented with subscription-based internet services for Mac users since the early 2000s. MobileMe expanded these efforts to cover iPhone and iPod touch owners, while overhauling the service for OS X.

On paper, it sounded great. In practice, it never lived up to its promise. As early as August 4, 2008 — just a month after shipping — Jobs apologized for MobileMe’s botched rollout.

“It was a mistake to launch MobileMe at the same time as iPhone 3G, iPhone 2.0 software and the App Store,” he wrote in an email to employees.

MobileMe was a rare Steve Jobs misfire

Behind the scenes, Jobs was furious about the MobileMe debacle. According to a Fortune article, he gathered the responsible employees together in the Apple auditorium and asked them, “Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?”

When some people began to stammer answers, Jobs snapped: “So why the f**k doesn’t it do that?”

In his email to Apple employees, he promised to make MobileMe “a service we are all proud of,” but this never really happened. By 2011, Apple stopped advertising MobileMe to new customers. iCloud replaced MobileMe that October. The July death of MobileMe came as no surprise, but marked the end of one of Jobs’ rare misfires.

Were you a MobileMe subscriber? Let us know in the comments below.