Steve Jobs on the MobileMe mess

MobileMe logo

MobileMe logo

An apologetic email attributed to Steve Jobs regarding Apple’s troubled MobileMe service was leaked today.

Team,

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 Contacts.
  • 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.

Steve

MobileMe, released on July 9, 2008, was Apple’s replacement for their .Mac service (released Jan. 5, 2000). MobileMe, like .Mac before it, was a package or suite of services.  All .Mac subscribers were upgraded to MobileMe.

For $119 per year MobileMe users have access to services such as:

  • 20 GB of online storage
  • Mail: MobileMe includes an @me.com email address (previous .Mac users also keep their @mac.com address and can use either as both addresses are linked). When a message is received it is sent directly to all the user’s devices using Push Mail. Supported devices include the Apple iPhone, iPod Touch, Apple Mail on Mac OS X, and Microsoft Outlook on Microsoft Windows.
  • Address Book and Calendar: If a user makes a change to a contact or event on one device it will automatically synced to the MobileMe servers and, by extension, all the user’s other devices. Supported devices include the Apple iPhone, Address Book and iCal on Mac OS X, or Microsoft Outlook on Microsoft Windows.
  • Photo Gallery: Photos can be uploaded in the web browser at me.com, synced by iPhoto or Aperture on Mac OS X or by sending it from the iPhone and iPod Touch.
  • iDisk: An online storage repository accessible via a web browser at me.com, Finder on Mac OS X, or as a remote disk in Microsoft Windows. It also allows sharing of files by placing them in the iDisk Public Folder.
  • iWeb Publish: Users of Mac OS X 10.5 or later can use the iLife 08 application iWeb to publish websites hosted on their MobileMe account, either to a domain name that the user controls or a page on the me.com website.

What Problems Were/Are There

One of the most vexing problems suffered by users of MobileMe was the poor functioning of the synchronization service for the address book which often resulted in duplicate entries or lost entries, an email service outage that lasted four days, and generally choppy service access.


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