Apple’s MobileMe highlights problems endemic to cloud computing

“MobileMe has garnered positive reviews for its features and its intuitive user interface. But accessing Apple’s cloud has been a stormy experience for some users,” Rich Parr writes for MIT’s Technology Review.

“Cloud computing has been touted as a potential tool for everything from improving business infrastructure to helping consumers keep tabs on their contacts. Storing data in the ‘cloud’ of the Internet rather than locally allows users to access that information anywhere and at any time,” Parr writes.

“Some cloud-computing applications–like Google’s Gmail, Google Calendar, and the Google Docs document-sharing and -editing service–live entirely in the cloud: users’ data is stored remotely and accessed via a Web browser. Other applications–like the contact-syncing service Plaxo–use the cloud to back up data and keep it up to date across multiple computers and mobile devices,” Parr writes.

“MobileMe combines both approaches, syncing data between computers while providing access to a user’s e-mail, contacts, calendar, and photos via the Web,” Parr writes. “But the service’s troubles illustrate an obstacle to the mass acceptance of cloud computing: the average user has a low tolerance for downtime.”

Full article here.


  1. If anyone can fix a problem quickly, Apple can. Let’s not forget that some of the problems were due to demand. People got what…30 days free?…lets give Apple those 30 days to get it right. Report your problems to them and they will fix them quicker than most. Apple wants to put .Mac to shame and will do it. Instead of lowering prices on Macs, I would give a free year of MobileMe with a Mac purchase, since it has revealed itself as a beta.

  2. Problems endemic to cloud computing or Apple’s newfound approach to life: “Let’s half-ass it now and fix it later”?

    If Apple hadn’t fscked up, this article could’ve been a heap of praise for cloud computing based on MobileMe’s thoughtful execution as evidence that it can work. MobileMe could’ve served as a good example rather than cast a black mark on the concept.

  3. It seems Apple is spread way too thin these days. Mobile Me botched, 2.0 firmware botched, launch-day activations botched… The iPhone/Touch 2.0 firmware is the buggiest thing I’ve used since Windows ME. There I said it. I cant believe how many times my iPhone has either forced quit or reboot while doing simple, mundane things. That combined with the buggy iTunes syncing of applications and long, seemingly unnecessary, app syncs.

    Apples been missing their dates, or releasing “betas”, on a large amount of products over the last year. Leopard was pushed back months and released with a good deal of bugs, the SDK was pushed back and still seems to be a beta, Mobile Me release was a train-wreck, and the 2.0 firmware is as buggy as a foreclosed houses in-ground pool.

    If Apple doesn’t scale their company along with their market growth, they will be in trouble.

  4. Sorry boys. WTF is positive about MobileMe over .mac besides a reskinned UI, calendar etc. The mobileme MAIL APP (the primary app) SUCKS – the worst webmail period and we pay for this crap – no Rich Text edit capabilities or forwarding capabilities. It has to worst apple dev team – I can drag and drop mail but cannot forward a html email to a friend? I can’t remember the time yahoo and gmail did not have this feature – 4 years back?

  5. Back in the day, we used to hook up dumb terminals and the “cloud” was the mainframe. We were at the mercy of IT (called MIS in those days). Your pretty terminal was useless unless they gave you access to the mainframe. Then “Apple ignited the personal computer revolution.”

    Now we all have computers vastly more powerful than those old mainframes literally in our offices, living rooms, laps, and palms of our hands. Why the hell do we want to go back in time and relinquish control of our applications and data?

    The more things change, the more they stay the same I guess.

    I hate the old “the network is the computer” concept that Sun used to push trying to get us to do this. I hate the new revamped “cloud computing” version of it.

    I can understand sharing my data with web based versions of local apps. I.e. webmail, but damned if I’m going to be caught in the middle of nowhere with no net access and have no ability to make simple changes to documents.

    I will not pay monthly fees to use software .

    This is a horrible direction for the industry to go in.

    The vision that some people have is that you have nothing more than a DUMB TERMINAL again, in this case a device that does nothing but run a browser, and all your apps and data are in cloud.

    Sucks the big weenie IMHO.

  6. Apple has screwed up, plain and simple. They should not have rolled out four major new products in the space of 3 days, especially four products which were completely web-dependent for set up, uploads, downloads, registration, sync, etc, etc.

    1. MobileMe
    2. iPhone 2.0 update
    3. App store
    4. iPhone 3G

    Things would have been much better if they had spaced each new product about a week apart.

    Week one: MobileMe
    Week two: iPhone 2.0 update
    Week three: App store online
    Week four: iPhone 3g feeding frenzy

    This phased roll-out would have also also allowed even more hype to build for the iPhone 3G and maybe their MobileMe push services would have actually been working by the time the new iPhone came out.

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