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Apple offers MobileMe users a second extension

The move may cost the company around $50M

August 19, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - For the second time in two months, Apple Inc. yesterday extended MobileMe subscriptions to calm users angry over the online service's rocky start.

In an e-mail Apple sent to MobileMe subscribers late Monday, the company said it would add an extra 60 days to their service plans. A month ago, Apple added 30 days for earlier snafus.

"We have already made many improvements to MobileMe, but we still have many more to make," the e-mail read. "To recognize our users' patience, we are giving every MobileMe subscriber as of today a free 60-day extension. This is in addition to the one-month extension most subscribers have already received."

Apple did not acknowledge any specific problem with the sync and storage service in its e-mail or the support document it posted Monday, but MobileMe has been plagued by troubles since it launched last month.

The transition from MobileMe's predecessor, .Mac, dragged on for a full day rather than the hours expected. A few days later, customers complained about slower-than-expected synchronization -- which Apple answered with the first service extension -- and then on July 18, an Apple server went dark, taking down the e-mail accounts of about 1% of MobileMe's subscribers for 11 days.

Last week, MobileMe's e-mail again went out, preventing users from accessing their accounts for about seven hours.

Even before that, MobileMe's problems prompted CEO Steve Jobs to issue an internal memo that admitted the service's poor performance. Interestingly, the memo -- which was leaked to the media -- used almost identical language in places as the support document Apple published Monday.

The launch "was not our finest hour," Jobs said in the memo, adding that the service "was simply not up to Apple's standards." As part of his response, Jobs reassigned executives, giving responsibility for MobileMe to Eddy Cue, who also heads the iTunes music store.

"The transition from .Mac to MobileMe was rockier than we had hoped," read Apple's support document. "While we are making a lot of improvements, the MobileMe service is still not up to our standards."

The e-mail pitched in to parrot Jobs' "finest hour" phrasing. "We know that MobileMe's launch has not been our finest hour, and we truly appreciate your patience as we turn this around."

The few users who posted comments to the MobileMe support forum applauded the newest extension. "Having been constructively critical of the problems, I should say this a welcome extension and acknowledgement of some of the problems," said Martin Cloake.

Another user, identified as "Tucker77," echoed Cloake. "Only fair really for the complete mess this whole thing has been. Well done to them for doing it, though."

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