Apple offers MobleMea Culpa, extra month of sync service

Apologizes for rocky start, swears off using 'push' to describe new service

Apple extended an olive branch to subscribers of its MobileMe online sync service today by apologizing for problems during last week's opening and adding 30 additional days service to all accounts.

In an e-mail sent to MobileMe subscribers today, Apple acknowledged the service's shaky start as it shifted from the older .Mac sync and storage service. "We have recently completed the transition from .Mac to MobileMe," the e-mail read. "Unfortunately, it was a lot rockier than we had hoped. Although core services such as Mail, iDisk, Sync, Back to My Mac, and Gallery went relatively smoothly, the new MobileMe web applications had lots of problems initially."

MobileMe, which costs US$99 for a single-user annual subscription, added additional storage and new Web-based e-mail, contact and scheduling applications to the synchronization features found in .Mac.

But it was also touted by Apple as "Exchange for the rest of us" from the moment it was unveiled in June, and marketed with the phrase "push" to describe nearly-instant synchronization of data between Macs, PCs, iPhones, iPod touches and the MobileMe "cloud" servers.

That description, and the fact that Macs and PCs did not sync instantly, but instead merged data with the MobileMe servers only every 15 minutes at best, set off a flood of complaints. Many users said Apple had deceived them, while others simply expressed disappointment on the company's support forums and elsewhere online.

Today, Apple backed away from the "push" label, at least for now. "Another snag we have run into is our use of the word'push' in describing everything under the MobileMe umbrella," read the mea culpa message to subscribers. "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."

The message, which was signed "The MobileMe Team," also apologized for the snafus and said Apple would extend current subscriptions by 30 days. "Your extension will be reflected in your account settings within the next few weeks," Apple said.

A support document posted to the Apple site today spells out the extension's eligibility details. To receive the extra month's service, users must have signed up before 7 p.m. PDT, on Monday, July 15. Users who registered for a free trial also will receive the 30-day extension.

On the MobileMe support forum, however, users continued to complain, extra 30 days or not. Several on one thread, for example, claimed that the service is still not fully functional.

"And I'm sorry everything else is not working perfectly," said a user labeled "dpkronmiller" on the forum. "My comments are still not functioning and there [are] still issues with sync (just a glance at comments here is enough to see that). So why is Apple being so undescribably [sic] well, bad at this?"

Others didn't care for Apple's offering at all. "Keep the extra 30 days. What good is it if I can't find my email and web pages? Who wants more of the same?" said "vstevensstoklosa" in a different thread on the same support forum.

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Gregg Keizer

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