MobileMe: It’s Not Apple’s Usual ‘Laughingly Simple’ Effort

MobileMe, Apple’s service formerly known as .Mac, was never particularly interesting to me since I have so many other current services that meet my needs for online storage, photos, and syncing. Still, I bought it for $99 per year since the “Back to my Mac” capability was so laughingly simple that it alone was worth the dough for me.

Those words, laughingly simple, are the ones to key in on since .Mac/MobileMe was specifically geared for consumers who do NOT have a propeller on their beanie and an interest in using a lot of disparate web hosted applications, but rather have everything useful in one place.

Now that I have an iPhone 3G — and the promise of sync’ing my data between my three Apple devices (MacPro, Macbook Pro & iPhone) was too compelling to ignore — I’ve been particularly chagrined over the hiccups Apple has had on getting this service up-n-running.

Unprecedented for the usually opaque Apple, there is a MobileMe Status page keeping people appraised of fixes for the critical problems of this new service. But one thing that’s not anywhere to be found is something I experienced earlier this morning: uploading photos to a gallery didn’t work as the first image in a series of 122 ‘hung’, even after repeated attempts.

What Apple is attempting to accomplish with this level of coordination and orchestration between devices and the cloud isn’t trivial, and I’m willing to cut them A LOT of slack. The photo upload problem, along with other bugs I’ve discovered such as deleting/managing contacts which often ‘hangs’ after a period of time deleting or editing contacts, really gives me pause.

Here’s the kicker though: knowing all the people I assist with their Mac/iPhone investments — and their respective levels of fairly non-technical competence — makes one thing crystal clear to me: most consumers experiencing these MobileMe hiccups are quickly developing a lack of trust in Apple’s MobileMe effort. If you don’t care to take my word for it, take a peek at the MobileMe Discussion forum at Apple and you’ll see what I mean.

To add to this trust issue is the fact that sync’ing itself is also NOT laughingly simple. I’ve found that understanding the selection of which device to first sync to MobileMe in the cloud and then sync’ing other devices to that main set of data is something most non-technical folks just don’t get. This is, IMHO, one of the key causes for so many problems experienced by people on the Apple MobileMe forum.

Perhaps this is telling as well: even though I’m the sysadmin for my family (now a three iPhone one), I’ve not yet rolled out MobileMe to anyone else since I’m not yet comfortable it works. Apple will get there, though, and I’m willing to hang in there with them.

About Steve Borsch

I’m CEO of Marketing Directions, Inc., a trend forecasting, consulting and publishing firm in Minnesota. Prior to that I was Vice President, Strategic Alliances at Lawson Software in St. Paul where I was responsible for all partnerships at this major vendor of enterprise resource planning software products and services. Read more about me here unless you’re already weary of me telling you how incredible and awesome I am.

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