“It’s exactly one week until Steve Jobs takes the stage the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference to present another basket of fetish objects to his many worshipers,” Saul Hansell reports for The New York Times.

MacDailyNews Take: Hey, Saul, why don’t you stuff the extremely tired “fetish objects for worshipers” B.S. up your… write something original for a change? Sideways.

Hansell continues, “The diviners have fully examined the pigeon entrails and shipping manifests to prophesize the rebirth of the iPhone: It is said to surf faster, know its location better, and take pictures with more pixels. And it might even be cheaper.”

“Now there is a flurry of speculation about improvements to a minor icon an the Apple Pantheon: the .Mac online service. For six years, .Mac has been a $100 a year bundle of handy Internet services, now including e-mail, online hosting, backup, photo sharing, and tools to synchronize calendars and address books. Industry reports say Apple has between 1 million and 2 million subscribers,” Hansell reports.

“Those diving into the latest update to Apple’s operating system found that it no longer contains the text ‘.Mac’ but uses a variable ‘%@’ so the name can be updated on the fly by Apple. Indeed, hidden in the software is the phrase ‘%@ is the new name of Apple’s online service (was .Mac),’” Hansell reports. “Saturday, John Gruber at Daring Fireball found that ‘Me.Com’ appears to be owned by Apple.”

“The introduction of the successor to .Mac may offer a window into how Mr. Jobs sees advertising and the future of Apple. If the service, or a large part of it, is free with advertising, this may be the beginning of a shift that could build a significant new revenue source for the company (and possibly lead to a shift in the structure of the music business),” Hansell reports.

Full article here.