MobileMe (aka former .Mac) subscribers received an overdue email from the MobileMe team today, apologizing for the rocky roll-out of the new service and extending a free month of service to all subscribers.
The email contained the following interesting paragraph:
Another snag we have run into is our use of the word “push” in describing everything under the MobileMe umbrella. While all email, contact or calendar changes on the iPhone and the web apps are immediately synced to and from the MobileMe “cloud,” changes made on a PC or Mac take up to 15 minutes to sync with the cloud and your other devices. So even though things are indeed instantly pushed to and from your iPhone and the web apps today, we are going to stop using the word “push” until it is near-instant on PCs and Macs, too.
What a welcome breath of fresh air: unambiguous retraction of unjustified marketing hype!
As a product manager, it strikes me that the team managing the rollout did an excellent job of damage control: fix the operational problems, apologize to the customers, change the marketing message where it’s out of line with the new reality, extend credit and move on. And they’ve done a good job. I even have to retract my characterization of MobileMe as the Lindsey Lohan of webmail services (last paragraph).
After I played around a bit with the new firmware, I got on the App Store and started downloading. I got my hands on Exposure, MLB.com At Bat, Band, the Google app, Bloomberg, the BofA app, CheckPlease, Evernote, Facebook, AIM, Jott, midomi, the AP’s Mobile News, NetNewsWire, Remote, Salesforce, iPint, and PhoneSaber. I won’t be able to review each of them, but a few quick thoughts on the ones I’ve tried:
- iPint: deleted. Not enough fun to make up for the big Carling logo that comes up on the beer pint at the end.
- MLB.com At Bat: A much nicer way than the Red Sox web site to find out if Storrow Drive will be jammed up because of a home game at Fenway.
- Exposure: I agree with The Unofficial Apple Weblog: Photos Near Me is creepy but kind of a cool way to explore the area around you. It was with Exposure that I first saw the request to use my location, and I was relieved to see it again this morning. Apparently authorizing the release of your location data is not just a one time thing. The app is a little slow over Edge, though.
- BofA: doesn’t seem that much improved over their mobile web experience. A few of the graphics appear to be included in the app, but most of the rest is just like the website. Of course, the automatic location based ATM finder is good, but is that enough of a reason to install an app, even if it is free?
- PhoneSaber: a giggle and a fun demo of the phone’s capabilities. What would be really cool is if you had two iPhones running PhoneSaber, and you could tell that they were near each other, that you could do a real duel.
- Band: Bought it for the keyboard. Love it for the 12 bar blues mode.
- Bloomberg: is slow over Edge, but not as slow as I would have guessed. Missing: a way to share stories from Bloomberg News.
- Jared: Oh, Jared. So glad to see my old friend here. The voice of the Butcher of Song has not improved with age, and that’s how we like it. (Incidentally, does Jared win the award for the app ported to the most Apple programming environments? Classic, Newton (!), Mac OS X app, Mac OS X Dashboard widget, iPhone…)
Regarding the economics and revenue model from the App Store: First, I have to give kudos to the folks at MacRumors and TechCrunch for their ingenuity. Alas, it looks like they spilled the beans too soon, as all download counts have been re-zeroed out. But the preliminary indications ($55K in revenue from the US store before it even opens) should hopefully prove the viability of the revenue model.
And I definitely echo Daring Fireball’s point about the store’s reliability, a point thrown into even sharper relief by the fact that MobileMe is, as I speak, continuing to stagger about like a starlet in rehab: very pretty, a promising future, and completely incapable of standing upright for more than a few minutes at a time.
Various sources report that the iPhone App Store will launch today. It’s clear that iTunes 7.7 is out, featuring the ability to control iTunes from a new free iPhone/iPod Touch app, and the New York Times says that Apple will be launching the app store.
What I haven’t seen reported anywhere is anything about a MobileMe launch today. But signs are good; right now I’m getting a maintenance screen on .Mac:
Fortunately, I’m still getting mail on my iPhone. But maybe this means a MobileMe launch is imminent too.
Update: Okay, I missed the .Mac status report on Apple support that indicated that MobileMe was actually supposed to launch last night; the maintenance window was from 8 pm to 2 am Pacific time. Right now the status isn’t pretty:
Update 2: As of noon-ish on the east coast, the update now says that all services are back online except for webmail and web pages: “With the exception of the new web apps, all of the following services are available: Mail, iChat, iDisk, Sync, Back to My Mac, and all published pages, including Galleries and iWeb sites.” Smart money has it that there’s a contingency plan being executed while they figure out why the new MobileMe apps aren’t RTWing successfully.