Apple admits new MobileMe problem

Company says it has identified and resolved an issue with MobileMe Sync on iPhone and iPod touch.

Although Apple has restored full e-mail service to about 40 percent of the subscribers who have been locked out of their accounts for more than a week, the company today acknowledged a new problem with the sync service.

Late Sunday, Apple used its new bloglike Status section of the MobileMe home page to update subscribers on the long-running e-mail outage, which began July 18 and affected approximately 1 percent of the service's users.

"We've restored full e-mail history (minus the approximately 10 percent of mail received between July 16 and July 18 which may have been lost) and the ability to access e-mail from a Mac, PC and iPhone , to over 40 percent of these users," said an Apple employee identified only as "David G." Some users, however, disputed Apple's claim, saying that although they had been told that their e-mail service had been completely restored, they were still unable to access their accounts.

"I also received the e-mail you are speaking of which stated FULL access had been restored, but it never was," said a user with the alias "jafralaj" on the forum after another subscriber opened the discussion with a copy of the e-mail notification he'd received from Apple. "I have not had "full access" since July 18th. But I don't think there is anything we can do but keep waiting for the geniuses to figure it all out."

Apple's David G. said the company would restore e-mail to the remaining affected customers "in the next few days."

Meanwhile, Apple has confirmed a new MobileMe problem in a notice posted to the front page of the service's support site. "Apple identified and resolved an issue with MobileMe Sync on iPhone and iPod touch ," the notice read. "Although no action is required for most members, some may need to reset their data from MobileMe to sync normally again."

The note followed scores of messages on MobileMe support forums from users reporting missing contact information after syncing their iPhones with the "cloud" servers run by Apple.

"All of the contact information on my iPhone just vanished! Names appear in contact list, but no picture, e-mail, phone number, etc.," said "Angioman" in a message yesterday.

Another user copied a transcript of a chat session with an Apple support representative Monday afternoon during which the Apple rep said it was a problem with the user's iPhone, not MobileMe.

And a third simply vented. "I need this to work as described [which was] 'The simple way to keep everything in sync'," said William Rivas. "Yeah right!!! Can we get a free 1 day seminar on how to make this thing work??? This has to be the biggest bomb ever."

Later in the day, users began reporting that their once-vanished iPhone contacts had reappeared. "Mine are back too," said "DavidM3" on the same support thread. "[But] between the MobileMe problems and extreme buggyness [sic] of [iPhone] 2.0, I feel like a Windows user again."

In its support note, Apple told users to turn off their iPhone or iPod touch and then back on, and follow that by disabling syncing, then enabling it.

The sync issue was the latest in a series of snafus that has plagued MobileMe since its launch more than two weeks ago. Just days after the July 11 debut, users blasted Apple for slower-than-expected synchronization between Macs and PCs on one hand and the iPhone and MobileMe servers on the other. At the time, Apple apologized and credited customers with an additional 30 days of service after acknowledging that that part of the service didn't meet the definition of "push" synchronization.

A week after MobileMe replaced the older .Mac service, users reported that they were unable to access their mac.com or me.com mail accounts using either the new Web-based application or traditional desktop clients like Mail in Mac OS X's and Outlook in Windows. Apple blamed that problem on a single server which had been knocked offline.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
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