Originally iTools, a free subscription service, .Mac evolved into a large
community with over 100,000 users. The yearly fees were $99.95 and
various discounts were available. For the fee, users got 1 GB (and later
10 GB) of storage or for a premium 2 GB or 5 GB of storage (later 20 GB or 50
GB). They also got an Apple email address and a hosted webpage, as well
as various other minor services.
The new MobileMe was an ambitious upgrade, bringing to the table improved
calendar functionality, with the ability to sync to Microsoft Outlook or
Apple's offerings. It also featured improved web publishing tools and
more photo options.
However, to say the release had a few problems would be putting it
mildly. The day of the release, July 10, many users could not download
the update to install the service. Secondly, those users who did finally
get the new service were angered to see that the promised "iDisk File
Sharing" service was not included. Apple argued that all its
services were "subject to change".
The file syncing was filled with glitches and many users reported losing photos
during uploading. After the first wave of problems, Apple's MobileMe team
groveled a bit by writing users a humble apology stating, "We want to
apologize to our loyal customers and express our appreciation for their
patience by giving all current subscribers an automatic 30-day extension to
their MobileMe subscription free of charge."
And then they went on to say, "We have recently completed the transition
from .Mac to MobileMe. Unfortunately, it was a lot rockier than we had
This phrase infuriated users, who were still experiencing numerous
problems. Among these was Apple's push email service which was not
working properly. Apple's team tried to brush that off, saying that
calling the service "push" email was a bit of a misnomer and a
mistake on their part. They stated, "Another snag we have run into
is our use of the word "push" in describing everything under the
Problems continued to mount with many users being logged out and repeatedly
asked for passwords and met with "damage" webpages. The iWeb
publishing service also was not working and publication was iffy at best.
One frustrated Apple fan reported, "I just spent the better part of an
hour going through Apple's phone support maze only to be told that we are
basically all hosed for at least a week. If you are a .Mac user and are trying
to publish iWeb content via this MobileMe(ss), you can forget about it for now.
It doesn't work. Period. There are huge bugs, and Apple is well aware of
Next Apple pulled another bad move in the eyes of many when it automatically
checked an option in a Windows iTunes update to install MobileMe
software. Many users compared this to Apple's Safari download scandal
that broke a few months back.
Later in July, Apple's MobileMe email went down
mysteriously. Users could not access their email at all. The beleaguered
MobileMe team released a comment stating, "We understand this is a serious
issue and apologize for this service interruption. We are working hard to
restore your service."
On its status page, Apple claimed the outage only affected one percent of
users, but acknowledged that 10 percent of emails were lost to internet
gremlins. Finally July 30, the Apple employee handed the unfortunate job
of doling out MobileMe apologies, a character by the name of David G., stated
that the problems were fixed, saying, "Thank you all for your extreme
patience during this trying time. By completing this restoration of Mail
services, we hope we have put the vast majority of MobileMe Mail problems
behind us and can now focus on improving other aspects of this new ambitious
The MobileMe woes were bad enough they attracted
the attention of king bee himself, Apple CEO Steve Jobs. He sent out
an internal email to Apple employees, which was predictably leaked, stating
that the service was released too early and was "not up to Apple's
standards". He said services should have been rolled out gradually
as opposed to "as a monolithic service". He adds, "It was
a mistake to launch MobileMe at the same time as iPhone 3G, iPhone 2.0 software
and the App Store. We all had more than enough to do, and MobileMe could have
been delayed without consequence."
While many would agree with Jobs’ assessment of the insignificance of the
MobileMe service, the comment likely does not sit very well with MobileMe's
100k+ disgruntled users.
In response to the mistakes, Steve Jobs is cracking down on the management of
MobileMe, ousting them in favor of Eddy Cue, who will now be in charges of all
Apple internet services -- iTunes, the App Store, and now MobileMe.
He will report directly to Jobs.
Jobs believes that he, Apple, and the
MobileMe team have learned their lesson as he states, "The MobileMe launch
clearly demonstrates that we have more to learn about Internet services.
And learn we will. The vision of MobileMe is both exciting and ambitious, and
we will press on to make it a service we are all proud of by the end of this
The launch of MobileMe was not our finest hour. There are several things we could have done better:
– MobileMe was simply not up to Apple's standards – it clearly needed more time and testing.
– Rather than launch MobileMe as a monolithic service, we could have
launched over-the-air syncing with iPhone to begin with, followed by
the web applications one by one – Mail first, followed 30 days later
(if things went well with Mail) by Calendar, then 30 days later by
– It was a mistake to launch MobileMe at the same time as iPhone 3G,
iPhone 2.0 software and the App Store. We all had more than enough to
do, and MobileMe could have been delayed without consequence.
We are taking many steps to learn from this experience so that we can
grow MobileMe into a service that our customers will love. One step
that I can share with you today is that the MobileMe team will now
report to Eddy Cue, who will lead all of our internet services –
iTunes, the App Store and, starting today, MobileMe. Eddy's new title
will be Vice President, Internet Services and he will now report
directly to me.
The MobileMe launch clearly demonstrates that we have more to learn
about Internet services. And learn we will. The vision of MobileMe is
both exciting and ambitious, and we will press on to make it a service
we are all proud of by the end of this year.