MobileMe users seethe over four-day e-mail outage

Call themselves '1%ers' after Apple says just 1% of users are having problems

Apple Inc.'s MobileMe online service continued to tick off customers today as users blasted the service for outages that have kept them from accessing e-mail for several days.

"I could not receive any e-mail (sending seemed to work OK though) on my MobileMe Mail account between Friday morning CDT and midday on Monday," reported one of the calmer users, identified only as M&C, on an Apple support forum today. "I still can't believe Apple [hasn't] posted explanatory information about this on the MobileMe site."

The support site does include a notice from Apple. "1% of MobileMe members cannot access MobileMe Mail. We apologize for any inconvenience," the notice under the "System Status" section reads. The message has been unchanged since Saturday, according to users.

That notice has been taken to heart by customers unable to access their .Mac or MobileMe services: Some subscribers have taken to calling themselves "1%ers."

"I'm a 1%er (which is bull)," said Joemac1960 on another support thread. "I think a lot of folks who are in the same boat as I am (no e-mail for 3-1/2 days) don't come to this forum anymore because they know that until the server is fixed its just 'standby to standby.' "

Other users were irate, or worse. "This is ******* ridiculous!! 5 days without mail, and I'm even on the shorter side of the delay from others," said a user tagged as Smellslikecinnamon on another forum. "Is anyone out there ******* awake!! Can't you at least reach those of us with alternate e-mail addresses outside of Apple, just so we know what the **** is going on?!?!?!"

Apple has had problems migrating subscribers from its original online service, .Mac, to the new MobileMe while cranking up the latter to accommodate existing users and new customers who signed up to take advantage of the iPhone's new "push" syncing capabilities.

The day before the July 11 iPhone 3G launch, .Mac customers complained about a longer-than-expected outage as Apple shifted to MobileMe. The process was to take just a few hours but stretched through most of a day.

Last week, others blasted Apple for touting all of MobileMe's synchronization as "push," or nearly instant, when it wasn't immediate to and from Macs and PCs on the one hand, and the iPhone and MobileMe servers on the other. Apple issued an apology to users and credited them with an additional 30 days of service for their troubles.

The e-mail problem has some MobileMe customers stressed out and suspicious. "Like most of us, I haven't had access to my e-mail since Thursday around 1 p.m. and have waited for long periods of time without success to chat with Apple support," said Joe Holley in a message posted Sunday to the service's support forum. "It is obvious that they do not have a solution and can't provide an ETA and that the problem is much larger than the 1% of users they claim. I, like most of us, are feeling that Apple is being less than honest about the % of affected users and scope of the problem."

Others pointed out that MobileMe is a cornerstone of the iPhone's push to compete head to head with business-oriented smart phones like Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry, but that the reality doesn't match Apple's promises. "You know, when BlackBerry goes down that stuff hits the news, the world stops and they fix it lickity split," said "Vanaman" on the same thread. "This is ridiculous and offensive to those who rely on Apple for a serious service — 'Enterprise for the rest of us.' Yeah, right."

MobileMe was touted as "Exchange for the rest of us" by Apple executives, including CEO Steve Jobs, when it was unveiled in June. The reference was to the new synchronization features it will offer iPhone users who don't grab mail or update calendars and contacts lists through their companies' Microsoft Exchange e-mail servers.

The service also provides new Web-based e-mail, contact and scheduling applications, as well as 20GB of storage space, double .Mac's allowance, for an annual fee of $99.

Apple did not reply to a call for comment on the MobileMe e-mail outage and the service's continued problems.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon