.Mac is the online services suite from Apple Computer.
It began as a free web services suite called iTools and then Steve Jobs changed the name to .Mac and started charging 99 bucks a year for it. But hey, it had email and web storage and syncing between Macs and virus software, as well as some other interesting things, so, fair enough.
However, since they started charging for it a few years ago, it hasn't really improved noticeably. To make matters worse, a whole host of free services from great companies like google and 37signals and flickr have popped up. This left many people wondering why they should pay for a bunch of services that they could sort of get for free elsewhere.
Well, Apple has quietly added a service to .Mac called "Groups". It's a place where you can share all of your info with people in your "group" and they can share it with you. Not too big a deal, though, since the people in your group really need a Mac and the .Mac service in order make the most of it. Without that, they can basically just read you info. Big Deal.
However, Apple is not finished. What would .Mac be if everyone that owned a Mac had .Mac for free, included with iLife? Well, I'll tell you what it would be. It would be the myspace of Macs and a whole lot more. Groups would be huge. All of your friends would be in your group, and when they had a calendar change, everyone would know about it. When you had new photos to share, every one of your friends would get them automatically via photocasting. All of your friends would have access to each others public files automatically. Your group of friends would have their own private message board. Sync all your contacts and bookmarks, not just between macs you own, but with friends of your choice as well.
You see, the smallest change can make a huge difference in something like this. Group sharing of stuff is all but useless unless everyone you cared about was in the group. Really, think about it. Who cares about sharing your calendar if only one or two out of 10 friends gets the update? Who cares about easy photocasting to two people if you still have to email the other 8. How will things change whenever you never have to email another photo, call around to change plans, or when you're online and you notice that 3 of your friends are chatting in a private room together.
Yes, I know we all have IM, but one friend has AOL, another has iChat, another uses MSN, another uses Yahoo! or whatever, so you can never get together unless you plan it and jump through a bunch of hoops. Example: Have you ever called someone to tell them to turn their IM on? What a joke.
Free .Mac for everyone. It's the loss leader that will have people buying Macs like never before.