iPhone 3G, MobileMe – iFail and the conspiracy theory

Over the past few days Apple launched MobileMe, the successor to .Mac, the iPhone 3G and the iPhone and iPod touch firmware 2.0. Let’s have a look at what happened the past few days in the Apple world.


Fail Whale - MobileMe style

I already explained my experiences with MobileMe on friday in a short post. (BTW: Anyone else noticing the shift away from anything “Mac”? Wondering if the MacBook/MacBook Pro will be renamed again.) First off, I wasn’t a .Mac subscriber. I test drove it a while back for 60 days but didn’t chose to pay 70 Euros for the service since, for me personally, it just wasn’t worth it. After seeing the features of MobileMe, mainly the push services, in anticipation of the iPhone software 2.0 and quite possibly the iPhone 3G, I decided to create a new handle at MobileMe.

The first try seemed to have worked out, but I couldn’t log in. Unfortunately I chose the wrong time to do this, since the service was more like Twitter in the recent months, aka not really working. This was on thursday between 1pm and 4pm CET, I believe.

I gave the service a few hours and then decided to subscribe again on friday morning, with the same handle. This time it worked and I even made it to the setup your PC, Mac and iPhone pages. Login sometimes worked, sometimes I was redirected to the Japanese Apple Store, at other times to the MobileMe site on Apple.com. Now, Saturday 11pm, everything seems to be working. I can’t say anything about the push services for the iPhone, since I’m waiting for the final activation/unlock tools for the 2.0 software.

This on and off experience for MobileMe seems to have been the biggest gripe for everyone who uses the service in the past few days. A friend of mine uses .Mac/MobileMe for his primary email and wasn’t able to send mails. Receiving was possible as far as I know but this isn’t good. Remember how everyone was complaining about RIM when their Blackberry service wasn’t available. As a company I’d look suspicious as to what Apple did and what they’ll do in the future to stop major outages like this from happening. Apple wants a piece of the business customers with Exchange support and push services, but they have to work for this share.

iPhone 3G

I haven’t been part of a line and wasn’t in a T-Mobile store over here in Germany on Friday but from all I heard from various blogs, videos, and even mainstream media, who didn’t quite get the problem as usual, the girls and guys in the stores weren’t able to activate your shiny new toy. VentureBeat has a nice video of the things that happened in San Francisco on Friday:

Apparently there were multiple failures at the same time. The activation servers didn’t work, the credit card machine gave up, etc. The activation problems were already happening last year when Apple started selling the the first-gen iPhone. Some people weren’t able to activate their phones for days. Why did the same happen again, more than a year after Apple and AT&T knew that this has happened before?

Now the question is if this is an Apple or AT&T problem? If anyone knows who operates the activation process, let me know. Also, a question to the non-US buyers: did activation work or did you experience problems when setting up your iPhone? According to Technosailor bad things also happened in Canada (Rogers) and the UK (O2).

This is the point where we could start a conspiracy theory. Let’s say Apple doesn’t want to work together with AT&T anymore, they could indeed say that it was AT&T’s fault and walk away from the exclusive deal. If it actually was AT&T’s fault, well, then there’s no need to point any fingers; the result would and possibly should be the same. If it indeed is Apple’s fault, in my experience, they’ll say that there never was a problem at any point or at least they just won’t talk about it. The MobileMe problems were definitely happening at Apple.

The problems over here in Europe were, from what I heard, mostly that there weren’t enough iPhones for sale. If this is an actual problem or part of Apple’s marketing strategy, well, I can’t say. At least the activation servers here weren’t as stressed as in the US.

According to Spreeblick, there was no lack of iPhone stock in the Berlin store at Kurfürstendamm. Plenty of units for sale.