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Apple is preparing beta versions of iOS 5.0 and Mac OS X Lion that hook into a service called iCloud, which will let users store and synchronize a wide range of data on Apple servers, according to report citing people familiar with the matter.

Earlier this week, a separate report said that Apple had recently purchased the iCloud.com domain for $4.5 million from Swedish outfit Xcerion. Tellingly, Xcerion has moved its desktop-as-a service offering from iCloud.com to CloudMe.com.

Now, AppleInsider reports that Apple has started using the iCloud moniker with several products under development within the company. According to the fanboi site, iCloud will let fanbois store and synchronize the same sorts of data they can now sync through the Apple's MobileMe service, including email, bookmarks, contacts, and calendar events.

Some reports have indicated that iCloud is primarily designed for music, but AppleInsider says that the scope of the service is much broader and that it could be part of a revamped version of MobileMe. In other words, it would appear that Apple is once again rejiggering and renaming its collection of internet services. First, iTools gave way to .Mac on the desktop, and then .Mac morphed into MobileMe with the arrival of the iPhone 3G.

iCloud will apparently take advantage of the $1 billion data center Apple is building in Maiden, North Carolina. The company has said that the facility will handle future versions of MobileMe as well as iTunes. ®

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