Despite the server-side updates Apple detailed last week, the company's beleaguered Mobile Me service is still problematic for many users. Yesterday, we received a number of e-mails complaining that Apple's Me.com domain was reporting 404 errors. Today, the fine folks at Pingdom.com (which monitors website uptime), posted some details about what was going on.
It appears that there was an issue with the Me.com redirect. If a user directly typed in http://me.com/mail, he or she could successfully access the server. Trying to access the Me.com domain, however, led 404 HTTP error response with the words "Not Found: Resource does not exist," appearing on the page. This outage lasted nearly seven hours, from 2:29 AM EST - 9:25 AM EST on November 3, 2008. Because the outage occurred at night in the continental United States, most affected users were from Europe, where the outage lasted for most of the work day.
If this was a simple redirect error (which it appears to be), why did it take seven hours to fix? My guess is that no one at Apple was alerted to the problem until someone came into work at 6:00 AM PST and started seeing error request e-mails or had problems accessing the domain.
This is a problem. If Apple is truly dedicated to making Mobile Me a service it can be "proud of by the end of this year," the company should really consider having either dedicated 24-hour Mobile Me IT support (or more support) or figure out a way to resolve errors like this in a more timely matter. Redirect errors or glitches are not uncommon, but any company trying to run an international communications service needs to get on the ball.
Despite my vocal misgivings about the service, before it even launched, I signed up for a 60-day trial in early July -- so I could "eat my own dogfood" -- as they say. And even though my service was extended for free until December, I canceled in September. Why? Because the service proved it wasn't reliable enough for any sort of e-mail communication, its calendar syncing was complete junk, and it seemed like every time I tried to access the service, it was either slow as all get out or unavailable. Free or not, that just isn't worth the hassle. At least with Google, it apologizes when it has an outage and if you pay $50 a year, you get actual phone support that doesn't just go to a random Apple Care person with no knowledge or information about the issue.
Are you still a Mobile Me subscriber? Sound off in the comments!