Report: Jobs admits Apple bungled MobileMe

Tells employees that the sync service 'not up to standards'

In an e-mail to employees, Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs acknowledged mistakes in the planning and launching of the company's problem-plagued MobileMe sync and storage service, a technology Web site reported last night.

According to Ars Technica, which said it had seen a copy of the internal e-mail, Jobs said the service was "not up to Apple's standards" and added that the company made a mistake in unveiling it just as it was rolling out the iPhone 3G.

"It was a mistake to launch MobileMe at the same time as iPhone 3G, iPhone 2.0 software and the App Store," Jobs said in the message, Ars Technica reported. "We all had more than enough to do, and MobileMe could have been delayed without consequence."

MobileMe, an enhanced -- and renamed -- version of Apple's earlier .Mac online service, stumbled from the start. The transition from .Mac, which was supposed to take only a few hours, dragged on for almost a full day, raising the ire of users locked out of their accounts.

Days later, customers complained about slower-than-expected synchronization, which Apple answered with an apology and a 30-day service extension to all users. Then on July 18, an Apple server went south, taking down the e-mail accounts of what the company claimed were about 1% of MobileMe's subscribers. The outage lasted 11 days before e-mail service was fully restored.

A blog Apple established to keep users up to date about MobileMe's problems has not been updated for a week. The last entry, posted on July 29, promised that another entry would be published that week.

Reaction to the reports of Jobs' mea culpa to Apple employees was mixed. On an Apple support forum dedicated to MobileMe, a user identified as "aliasak" said: "Glad to hear something a little more than deafening silence from the top on the way this introduction was mismanaged."

Others, though, were less understanding. "It's totally up to 'Apple's Standards,'" said someone identified as "removestains" in a comment left on Digg. "I lost 2 weeks worth of emails and they didn't give me *****. Their OS is flipping amazing but their customer service runs like [Windows] Vista."

At least one analyst, however, thought that MobileMe's problems wouldn't have a major impact. "Yes, it's been a pretty bumpy road," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at JupiterResearch and a Computerworld columnist, in an earlier interview. "But I don't think this is a particularly [long-lasting] issue."

Apple did not reply to a request for comment on the Jobs memo.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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