You don’t often hear about .Mac (aside from the rare outage or upgrade), Apple’s online services offering/division.
And yet, the services offer an interesting value proposition, especially for Mac owners. .Mac is a bundle of online services, nicely (neatly?) integrated with Apple’s various iNAME_HERE applications (iCal, iTunes, iMovie, etc), a significant differentiator from similar portal offerings from the usual suspects (Yahoo, MSN et al).
And yet, there are other important differentiators: a) Apple charges (and handsomely at that, with retail at $99/yr generally discounted to $69), and b) the service now trails significantly behind the 1GB+ offerings for Gmail et al.
While a services business like .Mac clearly has potential for Apple (great margins, user locking/turnkey experience), it also requires a commitment to low cost leadership, in order to offer storage and functionality with a “compelling value proposition” for users.
Apple also seems to lack the typical portal anchor of Search. What is Apple doing for web search? Is it an area they should play in, perhaps through partnership (hello A9)?
More about .Mac here.