Inside Apple’s special event live stream’s epic meltdown

“Apple’s live stream of the unveiling of the iPhone 6 and Watch was a disaster today right from the start, with many users like myself having problems trying to watch the event,” Dan Rayburn writes for Streaming Media Blog. “While at first I assumed it must be a capacity issue pertaining to Akamai, a deeper look at the code on Apple’s page and some other elements from the event shows that decisions made by Apple pertaining to their website, and problems with how they setup storage on Amazon’s S3 service, contributed the biggest problems to the event.”

“Unlike the last live stream Apple did, this time around Apple decided to add some JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) code to the apple.com page which added an interactive element on the bottom showing tweets about the event,” Rayburn writes. “As a result, this was causing the page to make refresh calls every few milliseconds. By Apple making the decision to add the JSON code, it made the apple.com website un-cachable. By contrast, Apple usually has Akamai caching the page for their live events but this time around there would have been no way for Akamai to have done that, which causes a huge impact on the performance when it comes to loading the page and the stream.”

“As for the foreign language translation that we heard for the first 27 minutes of the event, that’s all on Apple as they do the encoding themselves for their events, from the location [where] the event is [held]. Clearly someone on Apple’s side didn’t have the encoder setup right and their primary and backup streams were also way out of sync. So whatever Apple sent to Akamai’s CDN is what got delivered and in this case, the video was overlaid with a foreign language track,” Rayburn writes. “The bottom line with this event is that the encoding, translation, JavaScript code, the video player, the call to S3 single storage location and the millisecond refreshes all didn’t work properly together and was the root cause of Apple’s failed attempt to make the live stream work without any problems. So while it would be easy to say it was a CDN capacity issue, which was my initial thought considering how many events are taking place today and this week, it does not appear that a lack of capacity played any part in the event not working properly. Apple simply didn’t provision and plan for the event properly.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote earlier today:

The inept hack responsible for Apple’s livestream yesterday should have already received his pink slip by now, if Apple is still operating properly.

As Steve Jobs would likely say, “Can somebody tell me what a live stream is supposed to do? Then why the —- didn’t it do it?”

Obviously, not all Apple employees are sparkling gems.

46 Comments

  1. A tottaly disgracefull trainwrek this was for such an epic event.

    No question at all as to whwether Apple should fire the idiot(s) responsible. They are NOT of Apple standard and should find the back dor fast and another job.

  2. Hmm… Until reading the article and comments – I thought it was a capacity issue. The first half hour of the live stream was pretty bad. Re-watched the Keynote yesterday evening without any problems. Apple either needs to better prepare and conduct more testing or go back to what worked for other Keynotes.

  3. Absolutely awful. I wasted time troubleshooting everything at my end because I figured Apple wouldn’t mess up such a large event with some lousy streaming. There were so many errors I didn’t know exactly what I could have done wrong. Access denied? Huh! Chinese translation? Did I access Apple China website by mistake. Rebooted my cable modem and my Time Capsule, relaunched Safari browser a number of times. What the hell was I doing wrong?
    What was going to be an hour and a half of pleasant leisure turned into a streaming disaster. Although I know things go wrong, but Apple has too much money to let something like that happen when they’ve had so much time to get it right.

    The streaming AppleWatch segment went absolutely without a hitch so I knew it wasn’t my equipment at fault. So I sat and enjoyed that much and that was that.

    1. Same here. Things seem to get better around the time AT THE END when the watch was being introduced.

      I was just re-watching the beginning of the Keynote I missed yesterday and then realized I couldn’t scroll and go back without just going back to the beginning again. Really???? Unbelievable.

  4. Glad I wasn’t the only one/ few affected. The Apple Watch segment was streaming fine. Well, just enjoy the whole event again, if you didn’t the first time. It’s worth the replay many times over.

  5. I tried to watch this on my Apple TV. It was exactly the same horrible experience as was described in this article. I had to restart my Apple TV three or four times because the feed kept erroring out on me. I kept thinking it was something wrong with the unit but this confirms it was Apple’s error.

  6. Fire the bastard responsible. Man I was pissed trying to watch the event yesterday. Don’t they do test runs to iron out any potential issues? WTF? Whoever is responsible should have had his pink slip handed to him as he walked in the door this morning. Damn inept moron. You’d be perfect for Microsoft.

  7. Even Apple has to deal with the limitations of people and technology. As a person with a background in computer programming, I know bugs like these pop up in everything, every time. We document the error, and refine the process so it doesn’t happen next time. It’s pointless to dump a bunch of hate on some hapless engineer. Unless he works for Microsoft, of course. 😉

  8. THIS is a major thing that is missing by not having Steve Jobs at Apple: The fear & wrath of God that Steve used to herd a large group of talented people to achieve excellence. High praise when it is due, but heads roll when greatness is not achieved. Strategic planning & multiple rehearsals for Keynotes were imperative. People should be “Steved” after this live event fiasco. Or should I say be “Cooked”? Tim needs to learn that lesson from Steve.

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