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Most problematic launch in Apple history?

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The past two days were supposed to be one of the biggest launches in Apple history in terms of the number of big products being released. Unfortunately the launch has been anything but smooth.

Four different products were scheduled to be launched in the past 2 days: MobileMe, App Store, 3G iPhone, and an update to iPod Touch software. Three of those four products have had noticeable setbacks.


Apple’s replacement for their .Mac service, MobileMe, was set to launch yesterday. Not only did the launch not go smoothly yesterday, it’s still not going today. 36 hours later, Apple has the following message up:

The MobileMe transition is underway but is taking longer than expected. While core services such as desktop mail, iDisk and sync are available, the new MobileMe web applications are not yet online. Thank you for your patience as we complete the upgrade.

All of the services that previous .Mac users had have been unavailable for the majority of the past 36 hours or so.

iPod Touch Update

The new software for the iPod Touch is still on target for being released today, but the update process has been subpar to say the least. Users (myself included) see there is an update for their iPod in iTunes but when they proceed with the upgrade process an error message is displayed saying the iTunes store link can’t be accessed. I personally have had iTunes switch back and forth about a dozen times between saying there is and there isn’t an update for my iPod Touch.

Apparently server issues are to blame for this.

3G iPhone

The same server issues that are plaguing the iPod Touch upgrade also seem to be causing issues with some 3G iPhone activations. According to Macrumors, some Apple stores are just sending people home to activate their new iPhones because of the issues.

Now, let’s put somethings in perspective here. I would say of these three issues, the MobileMe one is really the only massive fail. The iPod Touch and 3G iPhone issues are more of a nasty inconvenience than anything (and we’re still only a few hours in to their launches).

To me it just feels like Apple bit off a bit more than they could chew and the consequence of that is their usual seamless user experience is getting hit hard.

Have any of these issues affected you? What has your experience been with these updates in the past couple of days?

32 Responses to “Most problematic launch in Apple history?”

  1. This is exactly why I laugh at people who wait in line to get Apple products (or just to get into any store, for that matter).

    I’ll wait a few weeks and let others go through all this headache. ;-)

  2. Apple released one other big update you missed, a 250 mb update to TV, but that one went smoothly for me. It took half the day yesterday for my iPhone to activate, and all is well now, but iTunes tells my wife that her first-gen iPhone’s software is still the latest version. I imagine they have pulled the update for a while till all the server problems are addressed.

  3. sjmills

    Add iTunes 7.7 as the 4th item on the list of failures. Lots of problems being reported. The first thing I noticed is that the EQ window now always appears at its default location, NOT where I want it to be.

  4. DavidK

    Well it was tough to get the iPhone software updated today like many. Finally resolved around 4 PM. Apple has learned it’s lesson I would say with such a major undertaking in 48 HRs. Bet it changes their protocol next round. Good to see they at least got it taken care of in a day. Wait to see what really happened but obviously tooo much server load. Love 2.0 though!

  5. My boyfriend was told he could not buy the new Iphone for $199 since the upgrade was not available to him. He has to wait until September for to get the offer or pay $450. Something doesn’t seem right,

  6. Chisler

    No updates at all here in Ireland today until around 4:00pm (11am Eastern), got the iPod touch update 2.0 but when i went to install it the itunes store was down. Got home tonight to try it and the update has disappeared from itunes :( No OS update either for MobileMe. Tried MobileMe in browser today in work and took a while to work. Agree with #11 on first point, man it was sloooooow.

    Funny thing, was onto Apple support over a battery issue with my MacBook Pro this evening, they needed to take my address to send the replacement but couldnt, said their systems were slow and had crashed twice. They apologised profusely – surely just a coincidence? Told them not to bother trying again until Monday.

  7. So much whining! If your phone is so important to you, shouldn’t you do what you do with every Apple product and wait for a revision to come out before upgrading? You don’t jump to the new OSX the moment it’s released on a work machine, right?

    And if your phone isn’t business critical, you can wait a few hours for it to work itself out. Go outside and play, or something. Sheesh!

  8. As a systems administrator I can understand unforeseen problems. But I communicate with my users! Even if I have to say “Yup. We’re down. Don’t know why. Looking into it.” They at least know what’s going on and can grumble accordingly. What I would like to hear from Apple is: “We totally blew the timeline and can’t handle all the activations from the software upgrade and the 3G at the same time. We are bringing in 1,000 new servers to handle the load but they have to be unboxed, imaged and brought on-line. That will take at least 3 hours. Please stop retrying to activate until 6:00pm tonight.” Or something to that effect. Just FSCKING TELL US SOMETHING!!! This total silence BS is what really pisses me off!

    And WTF(!!) is error -4? I can guess (server too busy) but geeze-louise, how hard is it to give a helpful error message?

  9. Sorry Kirk, but I think you’re wrong. I’m happy that you were able to upgrade, but I think
    the majority of people have not. As far as Apple goes, yes, they should have expected this. What idiot launches 2.0 and 3G at THE SAME TIME? What a completely boneheaded move. All they had to do was release 2.0 earlier in the week to lessen the number of simultaneous hits on the server. Now they’ve got old and new iphone, as well itouch customers all trying to download and activate at the same time. Yes, everything will be fine in a week, or maybe a few days, but right now people, myself included, are angry.

  10. william darbyshire

    Well Iphone 3g…….
    what can we say, sure its a ridiculously advanced mobile with ground-blowing technology, who wouldn’t want it…

    i hope to get mine on monday. In the mean time i plan you use the app store on my 1gen iphone..

    NO SUCH LUCK though.

    the itunes store has crashed and a variety of different error messages are coming up.
    i spoke to apple and they tried to reassure me that this was only for a short amount of time
    Somehow Version 2.0 which i downloaded has left my iphone into more of a iBrick.
    Any Comments?

  11. Rich Loen

    Here in Canada, things are just as bad. At 1pm, Rogers just gave up and shut down their system for a “software upgrade” The store rep said it would be 30 minutes – I called an hour later and the system was still down.

    And, they’re out of 16Gig iPhones.

    A friend who got one of the 3 16G iPhones available in Ottawa had to leave the store unactivated. He was finally able to activate the phone hours later after clicking on the button in iTunes about 100 times.

    And, I haven’t been able to upgrade my Touch to 2.0 all day – I’ve clicked about 1000 times to get to the upgrade page, and the iTunes store says it’s temporarily unavailable.


  12. Touch iPod

    Not surprising that in this economic/political environment even Apple cannot get things right. Apple dropped the intermediary company that handled last year’s phone activations and look what’s happened. I’m waiting to upgrade my touch iPod until I know the upgrade won’t kill it. Thanks Apple.

  13. I miss DotMac already for a big number of reasons, but all boils down to one fact: MobileMe is disappointing. Why?

    1. Fracking slow! Even DotMac was faster than this, and i’m not talking about server issues. I’m used to keep a tab with my mail open in my computer at work – which is a Windows (eek) machine with Firefox 3. I tried this with MobileMe and the browser was unbelievable slow after some time, forcing me to close the damn tab.

    2. Buggy as hell. Mail have issues with big subjects, displaying it in two lines. It’s ok until you click on it only to see the message disappear, and the message below it showing up in the visualizer. WTF? Deleting the message with the big subject solves the problem, but c’mon! iCal can’t remeber any settings change i made. Address book forgets modifications, and the account settings is inaccessible. Only iDisk and Gallery are working, albeit as slowly as a slug on tar.

    3. Holy crap it’s ugly! I mean, everything looks gorgeous in home, on my Mac and with Safari. But since i have all the desktop apps in my hand, i don’t have much use to the web interface. Now, at work, with Windows XP and Firefox 3… man! Fonts are off and hard to read. Everything looks cheap and distorted, like text at the edge of the buttons, selections misaligned and things alike.

    MobileMe is a big jump from dotMac… but they forgot that after jumping you have to land. Their landing was not pretty. At all.

  14. zr0k00l

    I have the original iPhone, and this morning I updated it to version 2.0 to my surprise I was issued a prompt with a nice beep. This was to inform me that “We could not complete your iTunes Store Request, The network connection was reset” and at the bottom of that it said that “I” should (make sure your network connection is active and try again) are you kidding me! and to add insult to injury I call the apple care number only to be told by some automated voice who can’t understand a word of english that to get help with your problem i will need to speak with a representative and that there are no representatives available at this time please call again at another time, WOW! So I called my nearest Apple store only to be told by a very nice lady that it is happening everywhere and I will just have to keep on trying iTunes and that they had been selling phones all morning and telling people to go home and activate it there. The only problem is that now iTunes is now down for the count. And I Have a paper weight which came at the price of $551.23 that was with my $100.00 rebate! WTF THANKS APPLE

  15. Was this really unexpected? We saw the same activiation issues with iPhone 1.0 and everyone freaked out and a couple of days later it was fine and you never heard anything else about it. I updated to 2.0 on my iPhone with no problem, as I’m sure the majority of people have. Yes, some people are having problems and yes, Apple should have ramped up the activation infrastructure after seeing what happened last year… but the world keeps turning, these isssues will be worked out, and a week or so from now nobody will be talking about this.

  16. 3G phone working OK but cannot sync – seems it needs to go out to store and that’s unavailable. My old iPhone with Sim card from other phone casnnot be activated either.

  17. My Iphone is a paperweight now having downloaded 2.0 but can’t get itunes store access to re- activate. Called ATT and Apple support. I was told to just keep trying, with no estimate on when it will be fixed. Should have known better to do it this soon. Frustrating…..

  18. Bill in Kerrville TX

    Finally connected to server for upgrade about 12:25 CDT. It’s now complete and working as a phone but still has to restore music, etc.

  19. walter

    tch tch very disappointing. mobile me is a disaster. not enough iPhones to meet demand… wtf happened? apple has mud on their face over this one…

  20. A nasty inconvenience? There are an awful lot of people who have updated their phones to 2.0 and presently cannot use them – and they will remain nothing but expensive paperweights until Apple sorts things out.

    Remember when Jobs was harping on about how you couldn’t afford for your phone to be unreliable? The same applies when it’s Apple causing the issues rather than crappily-written software.

  21. vyh7fz3lf9azkl2e

    My AT&T store in Pensacola, FL, ran out of black 16GB iPhones within 20 minutes of opening. Total stock of all models ran out within 45 minutes. Story was the same at three other AT&T stores in the city. Each could have sold the paltry stock Apple provided several times over and still run out. Under-estimates of that magnitude are criminally stupid.

  22. I haven’t been able to activate my iPhone through iTunes, i have tried on both Mac and PC and receive two different error message; the PC one blaming my network! Disappointed as i have been waiting for a while for the new iPhone and i would have thought that Apple would have implemented contingency plans for all the services they are launching this week.