What is Up With MobileMe?

ScreenshotOr perhaps that should be “what is down with MobileMe?” Apparently, for some customers, the answer is that email is down, and has been that way for up to four days. Coming on top of the iPhone 3G’s opening day “iPocalypse” activation troubles, this seems to indicate one of three things: Apple seriously underestimated demand for their new services, they’re doing an incompetent job of running a large chunk of infrastructure, or they’ve gotten very, very unlucky.

The details, such as they are, are over at the MobileMe support site, where you can read “1% of MobileMe members cannot access MobileMe Mail. We apologize for any inconvenience.” If they actually sold a million phones, that could be 10,000 people without mail (though we don’t know how many people have signed up for MobileMe, or how accurate that 1% number is).

Over on the MobileMe Mail Forum, you’ll find plenty of unhappy people, with thread titles such as “LATEST UPDATE FROM APPLE-NO END IN SIGHT” and “4th DAY WITHOUT EMAIL SERVICE.” And no wonder: most people probably assume, as I do, that running an email service is a solved problem. Hardcore Apple defenders might point to the sync features of MobileMe as a reason that this is a hard problem – but certainly companies like Microsoft, Yahoo!, and Google have been running large-scale (and even free) mail services for years.

Frankly, these teething pains make me very happy that I haven’t gone the MobileMe route myself. A 4-day outage would be absolutely deadly to me, or to most other web workers. With all the services we’ve enumerated in our alternatives to MobileMe post, it’s hard to come up with a good reason for putting up with this sort of service from anyone, let alone a company as supposedly dedicated to customer service as Apple.

If you’re in the affected 1%, how are you coping?

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