The good news, if you can say that under the circumstances, is that the outage that started July 18 may be coming to a close. Apple has posted a tech note on the ongoing issues, launched a blog to cover the MobileMe introduction challenges, and provided some additional details about what happened. As of 10 pm PDT last night, the one-percenters should be able to log into MobileMe webmail and retrieve messages from the July 18–25 outage window, though none from before the problem started are available yet. Apple also warns affected users NOT to change MobileMe passwords, aliases or storage allocations until the problem is cleared up, so be alert.
As the problem was triggered by a "serious issue" on one of Apple's mail servers, some messages got dropped in the bit bucket and will never come back (unless you have them cached in a local client like Mail.app, Entourage, Thunderbird or Outlook). Apple's statement:
While the vast majority of your email messages will be fully restored, a small percentage of email messages in the affected accounts have regrettably been lost. This includes approximately 10% of messages received between 5:00 a.m. PDT on July 16 and 10:20 a.m. PDT on July 18. We sincerely apologize for any email messages you may have lost.Apologies are well and good -- but considering the MobileMe terms of service, that's about all you can expect to see, as Apple isn't liable for lost business or damages due to the outage. If there's a lesson in this, maybe it's that mission-critical users should own their own domains and public-facing email addresses, so that they can redirect incoming mail in a crisis. Depending on a single provider for mail (even ones with a reputation for reliability) can bite you.
Written by Michael Rose. Thanks to everyone who sent this in.