Apple users angry over MobileMe outage

Transition from .Mac service takes longer than expected

Apple's revamped online service, MobileMe, remained unavailable to users throughout much of Thursday, prompting some angry complaints on the company's support forums.

"Very very very very very very annoying," said one user, identified as "peterbrussel" in a message posted early Thursday morning on an Apple support forum.

Apple took its existing .Mac service offline Wednesday night around 8pm US Pacific time to launch its successor, MobileMe. According to status messages on users' home pages Thursday, the outage was to last until approximately 2am Thursday. Those hours, in fact, were slightly delayed from the downtime window Apple had specified just one day before.

As early as Tuesday, Apple had indicated that MobileMe would go live during that time span. "Members will be unable to access www.mac.com or any .Mac services during this [down]time with the exception of .Mac Mail accessed via a desktop application, iPhone, or iPod touch," the message on .Mac read. "MobileMe will be available as soon as possible during this maintenance window."

The outage was more than annoying to some users. "MAC.COM BLOWS! It has been down for over 12 hours!!!" said "pm_in_the_BK" on another support thread. "Or did a big earthquake just drop CA[lifornia] in the sea?"

Others were calmer. "I don't really feel like for $100/yr I should have to play roulette with different methods of accessing e-mail," said a user tagged as "adelaney" on the same thread as peterbrussel. "I spend 9 hours a day in a location where my only access to personal mail is via webmail. This is a service that a number of different companies would offer me for free so I can't just shrug and say...oh well 'only webmail has been down' so that's good enough."

Still others defended Apple and said the complainers should have known the service would be down. "The SCHEDULED MAINTENANCE AND UPGRADE was announced in several outlets and forums weeks ago," said a user labeled "clintbradford" in a reply to peterbrussel's message. "Do you not read your IN BOX, nor read any Mac news sources?"

Apple did not reply to a call asking when the service would return.

MobileMe is the replacement for .Mac, Apple's earlier online sync and data storage service. When it was introduced last month by Apple executives, MobileMe was touted as "Exchange for the rest of us," a reference to the new synchronization features it will offer iPhone users.

The service will also provide push sync between Macs, PCs and iPhones; new Web-based e-mail, contact and scheduling applications; and 20GB of storage space, double .Mac's allowance, for an annual fee of US$99.

Mac users will need to update their operating system before connecting to MobileMe. The upgrade to Mac OS X 10.5 and 10.4, however, was not yet showing as of mid-afternoon Thursday on systems used by several Computerworld reporters and editors.

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Gregg Keizer

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