It’s been well over six months since we last heard that Apple might be considering dropping its MobileMe subscription fee, but newly discovered code in the iOS 4.2 and 4.2.1 gold master builds suggest that Apple hasn’t scrapped plans for MobileFree: in fact, it could launch imminently.
A reference in the new AppleAccounts.framework section references error messages for a “maximum number of free accounts” for MobileMe on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.
In addition, separate error messages are available to be returned when an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch are not available for free MobileMe services.
It seems like all that will be necessary under iOS 4.2 to get free MobileMe is for Apple to flip a switch, and it seems like they’re ready to do just that. A free MobileMe option would help Cupertino counter Android’s killer feature of an account sync that allows users to restore contacts, e-mail, wallpaper and app downloads just by signing in. A free MobileMe option would go a long way towards obviating the advantage of that feature for Google.