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More Contrition, Less Communication From Apple

The groveling continues: Subscribers to Apple's glitch-prone MobileMe service will get a free 60-day extension of the service. The company announced the move in an e-mail to subscribers:

We have already made many improvements to MobileMe, but we still have many more to make. To recognize our users' patience, we are giving every MobileMe subscriber as of today a free 60 day extension. This is in addition to the one month extension most subscribers have already received. We are working very hard to make MobileMe a great service we can all be proud of. We know that MobileMe's launch has not been our finest hour, and we truly appreciate your patience as we turn this around.

This statement, however, is still short on specifics as to what's gone wrong and what, exactly, Apple plans to do to fix it, as Mac pundit Adam Engst, editor of the TidBits newsletter, noted in a comparison of Apple's mistakes-were-made statements with recent apologies by Google and Netflix for their own outages.

I do find myself more confident that Apple will fix what ails MobileMe. That optimism doesn't come anything the company has said, but from blog posts by Apple alumnus and astute Silicon Valley observer Chuq von Rospach, who left the company in 2006 after 17 years (!) there and still hears occasional tidbits from friends on the inside.

In other news, Apple released an update to the iPhone's software last night. The new 2.0.2 software, according to its release notes, features... wait for it...

Bug fixes

I've installed it on the review iPhone 3G, but I can't say that I've seen any enormous difference yet. If your own experience has given any insight on what these bug fixes might be, please share them below.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  August 19, 2008; 12:12 PM ET
Categories:  Mac  
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Next: Survey: Apple, Google Gaining in Customer Satisfaction

Comments

The lawyers are probably saying "admit nothing"... With many people who have bought the service with their phone, class action lawsuits, the bane of corporations, may be on their minds, and they don't want to give anyone extra ammo to use in them.

Selling a service that isn't ready for production.... is that ethical?

Posted by: Warren | August 19, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Apple fanatics, please comment. I need a good laugh.

Posted by: microhard | August 19, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Imagine - selling a service as production that isn't ready to go. The nerve!

Of course, it happens every single day in every facet of IT across the world - it's generally called "vaporware" and, as a IT Pro for many years, I wish I had a nickel for every customer I worked with that has paid a premium for something "to be created." I'd be consuming some vapors on a fine, quiet, white beach somewhere with no cell phone or laptop.

Posted by: Larry | August 19, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Apple admitted they blew the "Me" launch, they reorganied the unit responsible, they initially gave a free 30-days, now they're adding another free 90-days and everyone is still complaining?

While Apple has definitely hurt their reputation for excellence, this is still far better than any other company I know.

I've got a Vista machine that frustrates the hell out of me every single day. I don't see anyone giving me a compensation for that.

Posted by: Zoet | August 19, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Apple cannot do wrong. Therefore, these are simply bumps in the road to perfection.

We are borg afterall. Just the shiny, happy kind. :)

Posted by: Bill | August 19, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the bug fixes will correct the constant bluetooth drops and poor bluetooth reception? Is it too much to ask to be able to keep my phone in my pocket and use a headset without static.

Posted by: iPhone owner | August 19, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Zoet

What kind of problems are you having with VISTA. Most problems are user errors. I have 27 machines at home running VISTA and not one problem with any of them.

Posted by: Marky Mark | August 19, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Extensions of time don't do much good if Apple doesn't fix the problem. If you switch to mobile me, presumably you are moving from other services (gmail, gcal, etc.) and want it to work as well or better. If it's not working, you're better off cutting losses and going back to your previous interface.

Is this Apple's biggest blunder in years? I can't remember such an ill-fated launch recently.

Posted by: ah | August 19, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

The people at Apple are human and they do make mistakes. But they sure seem to stand behind those mistakes and fix them better than other companies.

I switched form Windows to OS X and won't be going back.

Apple is changing the landscape for the better.

Love my mac computers and iPod touch.

Posted by: Lee, Richland WA | August 19, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

What world do you live in? Far from simple-- bumps and living in an isolated existence with limited software offered makes their bumps small. Frankly PC's cruise through hurtles everyday in the roughest of environments

-------------------------------------------
Apple cannot do wrong. Therefore, these are simply bumps in the road to perfection.

We are borg afterall. Just the shiny, happy kind. :)

Posted by: NYpedro | August 19, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Obligatory nerfing on the behalf of Apple. Obligatory snarky comment about Apple users. Are we done yet?

Posted by: feh | August 19, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Does "wait for it..." come from How I Met Your Mother or does it have an earlier derivation?

Posted by: slar | August 19, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I've had a new iPhone (3G) for about a month now. I've not had any problems at all. The email feature has been a great improvement and has really boosted my productivity. I can actually use four email accounts via my phone. Apple's me.com works fine. It pushes email to my phone almost instantaneously. I also access my office Exchange server with instant push. I use gmail on a 30 minute refresh and another POP account with my local ISP that checks mail every 30 minutes. No problems at all on the email. My phone synchronizes my calendar with my computer, my contacts are automatically in both places and they update seamlessly. The telephone component works as well as any cell phone I've had. I get decent reception nearly everywhere I go. My iPhone finds wireless networks when they are available and remembers the ones I've joined automatically. The Internet access is really adequate for a phone. Better than those I've had before. The phone uses GPS with about the same reliability as my TomTom car unit. I can map routes and zoom in. There are lots of features on the device that I've not explored fully, but I'm impressed with the development community that has sprung up around the platform. I'm not sure what the dust-up is about. I've gotten a couple of notices from Apple that my me.com service is being extended by way of some sort of apology for failure to perform up to their expectations, but I've not noticed any lack at all. Any accusations of vaporware are not consistent with my own experiences. This is a solid product.

Posted by: alberto | August 19, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

OK, wait, one of the MobileMe problems has been non-functional email, so Apple notified customers of this extension via email?

Reminds me of the time my phone company called me to ask if my previously non-working phone line had been fixed . . .

Posted by: LarryMac | August 19, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

One of the more nagging problems on my 2G has been resolved...lack of quick response tapping on contacts. Much better with 2.0.2

Posted by: MarkPix | August 19, 2008 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Rob, avowed fanboy here to say: I canceled my mobileme. I hadn't meant to, but they ONLY let you do it via the damned online chat and that took, honest, 15 minutes... until the countdown timer read, "approximately 1 minute" 'til help arrives.. and it said that 1 minute message for 52 minutes.

To heck with that. I was so outraged my mere complaint became walking away. I'll check back in a year. Maybe.

BUT, I do want to say that the 2.0.2 iPod update resolved the incredibly frustrating crashing I was getting with my Touch. And the worst part was, it was a myriad of different programs suffering the crashes (instantly, upon startup of the affected apps). This update sees to've fixed all of those issues.

Now if only I could get Leopard's iCal to sync my google calendars without messing up the colors associated with each...

Posted by: Bush -- not related | August 19, 2008 11:24 PM | Report abuse

One thing I added to the initial version of my article is some commentary about how full apologies can actually fend off lawsuits, rather than being an admission of guilt or weakness.

Is it so hard to say, "We're really sorry!" ?

cheers... -Adam

Posted by: Adam Engst | August 20, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

@Zoet, who cares if you get to use a broken service for longer? It's just locking you into it. And nobody cares if Apple "admits" blowing a launch. What they want is communication about the problems, how they are being addressed. When you get your updates for Vista, Microsoft doesn't just tell you "bug fixes". What is that? Do you have any clue what was included? No, nobody does. Apple won't tell you. Microsoft on the other hand, clearly spells out what updates are, and links to pages where you read the full details for each and every update.

Posted by: diesel | August 20, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

To actually comment on the intent of Rob's blog post and not join in on the flame wars... I installed the update and have noticed that my Contacts app works only slightly better than before. The lag time upon launch is slightly less, but still could be improved. Also, I can now scroll through the contacts the instant they load. Before, I had to wait almost 5 seconds before I could scroll through the list. Other than that, I haven't noticed anything different. My 3G reception seems to be the same as before.

Posted by: Anon | August 20, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Standing by the sidelines and watching, I find it somewhat amusing: Apple screwed up, and we immediately hear from both the Apple-can't-do-anything-wrong folks, who are quick to make excuses for their beloved; as well as the MS-is-the-only-serious-computer-company drones, who wring their hands in delight whenever Apple stumbles, claiming that such missteps are evidence that the company who invented “the computer for the rest of us” can’t play in the big leagues.

The last time I checked, Apple's track record has been pretty damned admirable: It's products and services are almost always reliable, its transitions (hardware and software) usually extremely smooth, and its new introductions virtually always trendsetting, prompting others to mimicry and plagiarism.

Perhaps Apple's outstanding track record is the reason its perennial supporters are so quick to sing its praises and excuse its mistakes. But it seems to me that outstanding track record is precisely the reason Apple’s feet should be held to the fire: If those who have come to expect more from Apple don’t demand it, who will? Certainly not those drones.

Posted by: Nick Naym | August 25, 2008 8:00 PM | Report abuse

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