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Apple throws free Snow Leopard bone at MobileMe punters

Hopes OS upgrade will get them hooked on iCloud

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Apple is now giving away an OS upgrade to as a ploy to wean punters off its MobileMe service and onto its iCloud storage offering. Cupertino's older OSes do not support iCloud.

Cupertino has informed MobileMe customers still using the 2007 Mac operating system Leopard that they can have the next version of the OS – the 2009 release, Snow Leopard – for free.

Apple hopes that after the punters have installed the software freebie, they will whip out their wallets and upgrade again to the latest Mac OS X (Mountain Lion), where they can use the new Apple cloud, iCloud, leaving MobileMe behind.

MobileMe will be shuttered on 30 June, 2012. iCloud has quite a few of the features and services that MobileMe offers, though some have been scrapped.

Although iCloud is free (up to 5GB of storage anyway), and MobileMe was once a paid-for service ($99/£60 a year for 20GB of storage and 200GB of monthly data transfer), Apple obviously considers it worth taking its cloud subscribers by the hand and leading them to the new service before they get seduced away by any other cloud storage options out there.

iCloud isn't exactly a philanthropic gesture from Cupertino, additional storage on the service costs $20/£14 per 10GB per year, so Apple must hope that it will start to pull in money from it.

The handout so far only applies to MobileMe subscribers on Leopard – surely a small subset of Mac users and of course the Leopard lingerers will still have to fork out for the second upgrade to the Lion OS ($29.99/£20.99). The basic version of iCloud is available free with Lion or Apple's latest mobile OS: iOS5. Judging from comments on the web, the Snow Leopard freebie appears to be only available to US customers.

MobileMe has the distinction of being one of Apple's few recent flops. Jobs reportedly told the product team in 2008: "You've tarnished Apple's reputation. You should hate each other for having let each other down.” ®

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