The official announcement of .Mac was made this morning in Steve Jobs' Mac World keynote speech. .Mac is their internet services bundle formerly known as iTools.

Why the name change?

1) Because they significantly updated the features, including antivirus software, more storage (now it's 100MB) and backup software.

2) Because its name is a play on Microsoft's .Net campaign of internet services. (hmm... Apple copying m$ for a change, I guess anything really can happen.)

3) Because they're trying to draw attention away from the recent major price hike for these services($0/year->$100/year, OUCH!).

This could prove to be a large mistake. While they currently have 2.2 million iTools users, it is highly unlikely that the majority will stay as most simply use it for the free e-mail address. As a current iTools user who REALLY likes having an e-mail address I might bite the bullet and pay for the service, but I sure as hell would rather not.

While the switch from iTools to .mac (aka the price hike) is disappointing, the new and improved 15mb of email storage space alone may be worth it. Especially for those of us that refuse to clean out our inbox on a regular basis.

In addition to the email storage capacity, other goodies include the continued ease of publishing pictures to your .mac home page, online file storage (billed as back up for your system), customized iCards, and new features which will debut with Mac OS 10.2 - otherwise known as Jaguar.

Apple's latest Unix based Mac OS will bring us two new iApps, iCal and iChat. iCal is a calendar publishing tool that will allow users to post their calendars online and allow others to access them. Permissions can even be granted to allow other users to download your calendar and receive automatic updates everytime you change something.

iChat will integrate with AOL's Instant Messenger application. .Mac users will be able to access the system with their .Mac email address. Previews have shown an incredibly enhanced graphic interface with pictures, dialog balloons, custom backgrounds and a lot more.

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