Roundup: Apple still hasn't cleaned up its MobileMess

Not only has it been a rough two weeks since the disastrous introduction of MobileMe July 10-11, it’s been a miserable last three days for Apple and its “Exchange for the rest of us” product.

First, up, the Wall Street Journal

Well-known personal technology columnist Walt Mossberg, a big fan of Apple products and services about 99.99 percent of the time, said in his first complete review of MobileMe on Wednesday:

“Unfortunately, after a week of intense testing of the service, I can’t recommend it, at least not in its current state. It’s a great idea, but, as of now, MobileMe has too many flaws to keep its promises.”

Next up, The New York Times

David Pogue, another Apple fan among technology writers, on Thursday chronicled the correspondence he has received from readers over their hassles with MobileMe, which they are calling “ImmobileMe” and “MobileMess.”

“It’s amazing that Apple doesn’t recognize this situation. This is an airplane that’s stuck on the runway for hours with no food or working bathroom. And the pilot doesn’t come on the P.A. system to tell customers what the problem is, what’s being done to fix it, how much longer they might be stuck, and how he empathizes with their plight. Instead, he comes on once every three hours to repeat the same thing: ‘We apologize for the inconvenience.’ “

To round out the week, Fortune and Macworld

Fortune’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt asks the question, “Who is to blame for MobileMe?” and calling it “Apple’s worst product launch in the 10 years since [CEO Steve] Jobs returned from exile.”

Macworld gets as critical about an Apple product as it usually gets, giving MobileMe three-and-a-half mice out of five — which the iPhone 3G and the iPhone 2.0 software upgrade both received in earlier reviews.

Along the way, Mossberg, Pogue, Fortune, and Macworld — and seemingly most of the Twitterverse and blogosphere — have noted that people are continuing to:

  • lose email
  • have sync problems between one or all parts of the iPhone-MobileMe (cloud)-computer data highway
  • that “push” is more like “shove”, with content updating every 15 minutes or so, not instantaneously as advertised
  • some if not all of’s primary Web applications (Mail, contacts, calendar) are losing data, are slower than usual, and are just plain flakey
  • it’s impossible to reach tech support, and if you do no one seems to know what to do.

(To help people cope with many of these issues, Hawk Wings has assembled an excellent list of MobileMe technotes. And here are plenty of entries at the Apple MobileMe discussion board.)

I’ve experienced all of this first-hand, and I’m so $#%%&! confused I don’t know what is what.

Where’s my complete contact list — on the Powerbook, the Air, the iPhone, or in the Me cloud? I get sync errors hourly. Calendar items are seemingly complete on one device, partial on another, and absent on a third.

And I’ll add to the list. Syncing and transferring files between computers and MobileMe is just as painfully slow as it was with iDisk and .Mac.

These horror stories make me wonder: What harm is being done to MobileMe? Is the luster and promise gone? Will non-Apple diehards even give it a chance now? Is personal cloud computing — ahem — just a pie-in-the-sky dream?

I remind myself and all of us: We are at the outset of personal cloud computing. There are bound to be failures, false starts, glitches, hiccups, but probably none as public as MobileMess.

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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