Apple may be getting ready to overhaul its .Mac service--or at least change the name.
A Russian site called Deep Apple noted that code within the Mac OS X Leopard 10.5.3 software update contains placeholders for the .Mac name that would allow Apple to drop in a new name at a later date. Dmitry Chestnykh of Coding Robots also noticed similar code within Mail and Safari applications.
Apple's .Mac service is designed to help Mac users extend the capabilities of their iLife software to the Internet by publishing Web pages, sharing photos, and storing data, among other things. But it's not exactly the company's most popular service, and looks expensive and out-of-date next to competing services from companies that make their living on the Internet.
The iPhone might be giving Apple a reason to think different about .Mac. If Apple were to revamp the .Mac service and turn it into something that ties Macs and iPhones together--and cut the price--they might be able to marshal an army of online Mac users and add a nice little chunk of revenue to the income statement.
But as John Gruber of Daring Fireball notes, a service called ".Mac" that is morphing into something more iPhone-centric might need a different name. Long ago, in a distant era (January 2006) Apple trademarked a name called "Mobile Me" that seems to fit the bill, according to Gruber.
The pending code changes could also mean, however, that Apple wants to tie iPhones and Macs into other Internet services, perhaps having decided that others could do a better job providing these types of services.
UPDATE 10:15am - Chestnykh found references to "Mobile Me" in the latest version of the iPhone SDK.