The question is: if MobileMe becomes free, will Apple dole out refunds to those who paid for the service within the past year, and will Apple generate revenue off the free service with iAds?
That is the question, without a doubt. This model would look a lot like Google’s — free syncing for calendar and contact information and email access, with ads served to members using the browser-based apps.
I’m not convinced Apple would go this route. While it could be used to show the world that the iAd platform is viable, I’m not sure how many people would choose MobileMe over Google’s services. There’s a sense of value associated with a $100/year service that isn’t present with one that is ad-supported. If you take that away, MobileMe definitely doesn’t hold up when compared with Gmail and Gmail-related services offered by Google. So why not go with Gmail?
Of course, some MobileMe fans people argue that Google spies on people’s information to serve relevant ads. Serving ads on MobileMe would render that argument pretty moot in my opinion.