After iPocalypse: Apple needs to clean up its PR mess

The above shot was taken on Sunday’s Macsurfer homepage. Just look at those headlines. If that isn’t a PR nightmare for Apple, I don’t know what is. This after they did such a super job before the iPhone 3G was announced.

Fortune talked about the perils of “event marketing” – how, yeah, a big huge event like this is fun and draws attention, it’s catastrophic when something breaks down. As it did on Friday. Apple is an expert at drawing press attention. That only makes the scrutiny laser beam that much hotter.

Despite everything that happened, it could’ve been worse. But I’m starting to wonder how. Just from personal experience, this week has been a bummer with my Apple gear. First, I updated my Airport Express base station’s firmware. Afterward, the thing crashed, and now I can’t use my external USB hard drive.

The update must have damaged my USB drive somehow, because I had to repair the thing in Disk Utility and now iPhoto crashes every time it tries to load my library from the disk. Even worse: my iBook and Airport Utility won’t even recognize the base station:

So much for a helpful “update.”

Then, after I thought MobileMe was actually giving me a chance to try it out (I set up my account, and could log in online), I find out that OS X 10.4 has issues connecting with MobileMe. In fact, the .Mac icons won’t even change over:

Just when it looks like MobileMe (or .Mac, or .Whatever) is going to sync my contacts and calendars and whatnot, I get this:

At least this is just the 60 day trial. If I were paying for this, I would not be a happy Apple customer.

And that’s just it. Even amidst Friday’s hellbroth during the iPhone 3G launch, I still played the dedicated Apple soldier. Most of the folks in line with me understood, too, that these things happen, and we were still a part of Something Special. But when the nuts of bolts of Apple’s operation start to come undone, that’s when you get people angry. People will stand in line for hours for the iPhone, no matter what activation issues are taking place, with a gritted smile on their face. That smile soon disappears, however, when basic things like Airport and “Exchange for the rest of us” (more like, “for the most patient of us”) start breaking down.

Apple has got a mess on its hands, it seems, and I wouldn’t want to be their PR department for the next week or so. The least they should do is offer some sort of apology, admit their mistakes, and fix their damn software. Those are the basics.

Do that, and we might forget our USB drive crashing through Airport Disk Utility. Might.

No comments.

  1. [...] see that? Finally, after two weeks of waiting, my MobileMe account syncs to that damn cloud that keeps raining on everyone.Every day since I purchased my iPhone and signed up for the free 90-day trial of MobileMe [...]

  2. [...] rotten in the state of Cupertino Just when I thought I found a solution to my Airport Extreme Base Station issue, the problem crops up [...]

  3. As a Windows XP user who has been keeping an open mind to Apple, I’ve been spending a lot of time in my local Apple store learning more about Apple products. I made the first step into “Apple land” by getting an iPhone 3G, but my MobileMe experience has halted my Apple migration in its tracks. I see the increadibly bad job Apple has done in creating a service like MobileMe that costs $99 per year and except for the push/sync to the iPhone, has only a fraction of the services you get from FREE email providers like Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft’s hotmail.

    In spending time with Apple store employees and listening to their “Apple culture speak”, I’m starting to think that Apple may be totally focused on creating products that in some ways are actually overly simple. When I speak with multiple Apple store employees, they tell me how thrilled they are with MobileMe and can’t understand why I would want the features so many people on this board are demanding. It’s as if these people think I’m a nut and that I can’t just get with the Apple culture of “trust all things in Apple”. True, Apple has some very cool products on the Macintosh.

    With the iPhone 3G and MobileMe, Apple seems to be trying to stick its toe into the water of the “business user”, yes there’re certainly many business that successfully use Apple products. But Apple has a miniscule slice of the business market share, so there must be a reason why they have not been more successful against Microsoft. Could it be this preoccupation with over simplification?

    Anyway, maybe we will never see what I (and a lot of other people) consider to be basic features of a hosted email service such as server side filtering, use of your own domain, the ability to change your outbound email address, etc., etc. Just mess around with gmail, Yahoo mail, and hotmail if you want to sample a smorgasbord of cool/mature features. Maybe Apple wants to keep MobileMe so simple that the far less sophisticated users will be happy and not mess something up. I think for the vast majority (e.g., the rest of us) MobileMe is seriously lacking in not just reliability (that’s a whole discussion in itself) but a long list of core features already being offered by the major FREE email providers.

  4. This brings up a good debate: is it easier to have push-like syncing over Google/gCal/Gmail? Is it worth it not to go through iTunes and MobileMe to sync your stuff? Is Apple’s version of syncing “too simple?” Most non-geeks, I would say, want little to no learning curve: plug it in, the thing syncs. Or at least open up Contacts of Mail, change something, and it syncs with your Mac. That’s the MobileMe dream. I don’t know if it’s easy enough to do over Google or Yahoo! or (ugh) Hotmail.

    I also wonder if Outlook had similar start-up issues.

  5. [...] interface and over-the-air syncing, MobileMe looked great on paper. In practice, however, it failed to live up to my expectations.Maybe it was a lack of habit, but I never found myself missing MobileMe when I wasn’t using [...]

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