There's a rumor making the rounds that Apple's MobileMe service could be going free "sooner than later... depends on certain facilities going operational." (Perhaps a reference to the massive server facility Apple's building in North Carolina.)
Introduced alongside iPhone 2.0 at WWDC 2008 to replace the previous .Mac, the current price tag is $99 for a single user and provides push email, calendar, contacts, iDisk, Galleries, and Find my iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad for mobile users along with Back to my Mac remote file access and screen sharing, iChat accounts, and a host of sync services for Mac users. It's enjoyed almost entirely incremental updates since then.
Competitors ranging from Google and Microsoft down to DropBox and Box.net offer similar services in whole or in part, and are either free or have basic levels that are free with optional payments for more storage or other premium services. And it's very hard to compete with free.
It makes a lot of sense -- from where we're sitting at least -- for Apple to adopt the same model. Give everyone the basic email, calendar, contacts, iDisk (though we'd prefer you just rip and replace it with DropBox), etc. for free, give the option to pay for advanced/high capacity services for those who want them.
And, hey, if that iPhone HD/iPhone 4G just happens to ship with a front-facing camera, and the new free version of MobileMe just happens to come with Mobile iChat accounts, maybe iPhone owners will finally have something that makes BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) users jealous...
Again, just a rumor so keep renewing your MobileMe until Steve Jobs or Phil Schiller tells you it's going free and Apple sends you a credit.