Sunday, July 13, 2008

MobileMe - DOA

Our WBC West group has been using a .mac Group to communicate since March of this year. I wanted (and pushed for) .mac because the ads on Yahoo Groups make it difficult to read email messages on an iPhone. From the start, .mac was a bit of a mess - very little configurability, massive problems with getting people included in the group (including a very small link you had to hunt for if you didn't want to pay for the service), and a weak interface for anyone who has used a computer in the last year. It was clearly aimed at novice users. 

Apple recently decided to change the service's name to MobileMe, with the intent that it would support the iPhone/iTouch. That's great, but it's not what I signed up for. So when Chuck told me he was having trouble getting access to our webpage, I took a look and was completely unable to get to it as well. Every time I clicked on something that was supposed to tell me what was happening, I got sent to a migration webpage that linked back to itself. Hunting through the forums on the Apple website finally explained that Groups were being phased out - no new groups, and apparently little or no support for what was there. 

At that point, I decided to pull the plug on the operation. We're going to standard e-mail rather than use any group (the micro-con is only a few weeks away), and I've asked Apple to refund a proportional amount of the membership fee. They basically took away the *only* feature I used and expected me to jump up and down at what sure looks like an entirely new feature set. 

Apple has struggled with online paid services. Those of you who used Macs back in the 90's may remember eWorld, their disastrous attempt at copying AOL, and I've been unimpressed with the .mac service from the start (I had a sub for a year once before, but let it drop because they took so long to update iWeb to a functional state). The Apple Music Store is largely a good service, although it can be a bit of a chore to find things from time to time, but then again you don't pay to access it, just to purchase things. With .mac, you paid for access. And now, I have no access to what I wanted to use it for. 

This will be my last paid online service that I buy from Apple in any event. It's unfortunate that my platform of choice is only available from them, and while I'm very likely to stick with them it's also very likely that I will not feel the slightest guilt in warning people off from MobileMe. I predict that within a year, MobileMe will have gone under and Apple will abandon any value-added strategy for the iPhone. The simple fact is that they have failed this test twice in the past and will fail this one as well. 

I expect that they are getting a lot of angry .mac users at this point, but I will fill you in on my experiences with their support people and whether or not I get a refund, much less the $60 I'm asking for back out of my $99 investment that I got a bit more than 4 months out of. 

Apple, please make this right for your customers. It's bad enough that Obama voted to let the telecoms off the hook. Make this right.

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