Apple yesterday confirmed that up to 2.1 million former iTools subscribers have abandoned the service the company now calls .Mac.

With just days to go until the end of Apple's $49.95 introductory subscription price for existing iTools members, Apple yesterday revealed that over 100,000 Mac users have subscribed to .Mac.

The previously free iTools had 2.2 million members, according to Apple's own figures as reported by The Seattle Times. Apple's introductory special offer extends until the end of September for existing users. The conversion rate so far stands at 4.54 per cent - representing a massive 95 per cent non-take-up rate.

Many former iTools users, however, are expected to sign-up for .Mac at the last moment on September 30.

Happy Discussing the figures, Apple's senior vice president of applications Sina Tamaddon said: "We're thrilled to have more than 100,000 .Mac subscribers so quickly.

"We're getting over 1,000 new .Mac subscribers every day, which is proof that many of our users want to seamlessly extend their digital lives onto the Internet," she said.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the death of iTools at Macworld Expo, New York in July. "Times have changed," he said, explaining the new name and the $99.95 yearly fee.

Services For the money, .Mac offers subscribers 100MB of Internet storage that integrates into the Mac OS X Finder, Internet hosting for personalized homepages, iPhoto digital-photo albums, iCal calendars, email services with IMAP, POP and Web-based access, and antivirus and back-up software.

Some observers believe SMS messaging support could conceivably appear in the future. This would leverage the SMS support the Mac OS X Address Book already carries, and the technologies Apple's working with in iSync.

Apple has tried a number of initiatives to convince people to sign up to .Mac. Most recently, it offered .Mac account holders a £30 discount voucher redeemable against purchases over £300 from the Apple Store, a free desktop game (Alchemy Deluxe), and $5 off the cost of another game, Bejeweled Deluxe.

The company also recently released .Mac Slides Publisher and BackUp 1.2 for .Mac members. Apple's newly released iChat application also leverages the .Mac service.

Email loss Following the keynote announcement, many iTools members complained that there was no option for the existing community to pay for just the services they needed. Most Apple customers simply wanted to retain their email address.

Responding to a Macworld Online reader poll, one of 1,846 voters said: "Apple should leave email for free. I am quite happy to pay for the rest." Another voter wrote: "Give me email for $10 a year and I'd be happy."

The same poll confirmed the Mac community's dissatisfaction with Apple's presentation of .Mac – just 28 per cent of those who voted thought .Mac's price was right, while 53 per cent flatly disagreed with the move.

Apple has made it possible to add up to ten extra email addresses to an existing account. These addresses cost $10 per year and offer 5MB of space, which can't be increased.

These accounts are limited - photo signatures are not supported. But that's not the biggest limitation - those wanting to hang onto their address will have to find a registered user who is willing to "convert" their account into an email-only account tied up to the primary account holders account. When that process is completed, all existing data, with the exception of email data for the Converted account is deleted from Apple's servers.

Meanwhile, new Macintosh customers can sign up for a free, 60-day .Mac trial account online.