The First Step Is Admitting You Have a Cloud Computing Problem

Even though Apple’s new iTunes Match service, announced today during their 2011 WWDC Keynote, falls short of the potential that I see for music in the cloud (outlined in this post I wrote last month), I’m still generally encouraged by iCloud, the company’s enthusiastic new push into moving the computing experience off of our local hard drives. If nothing else, Steve Jobs’ tacit acknowledgment that its previous products in this arena have been less than dazzling is a satisfying new sign of self-awareness.

It’s no secret that MobileMe, the company’s current offering, as well as its predecessor .Mac, were both so underwhelming that they left most of their users only to despair that Apple truly didn’t understand the modern Internet at all.

The worst part of MobileMe though — indeed, the worst part of any of Apple’s cloud-based endeavors to date — was the company’s complete and utter unwillingness to acknowledge how bad their efforts were. For the most part, Apple remained impassively tight-lipped about poor performance, gaps in functionality and market-trailing features, all the while moving glacially slow (if at all) to make improvements. If over the past five or so years you were, like me, a user of any of either of these services, you probably felt — again like I did — that aside from paying your annual renewal fee, Apple pretty much didn’t care that you were a customer at all. Four years ago I wrote this rather snarky post that, while a bit sophomoric, still stands as a good summary of what it felt like.

Thankfully, in an offhand but very enlightening remark, Jobs spoke about the considerable and understandable skepticism generated by that approach, supposing that most of us would think “Why should I believe them? They’re the ones who brought me MobileMe.” Too right. Such an open admission is a huge step forward. I hope iCloud follows up with a truly substantive execution.

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4 Comments

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments on MobileMe.

    Over the past few years I’ve felt particular embarrassed still paying for the service while Google and other alternatives have offered better options for free.

    It’ll be interesting if iCloud becomes something great or become another mild failure as Ping, MobileMe, iDisk, and so forth.

    *Fingers crossed*

  2. While $99 was admittedly way too much to pay for such a convenience, I must admit that MobileMe was the only way to seamlessly sync calendars (and bookmarks, contacts, etc.) between my iphone, my wife’s iphone, my computer at home and the web. In a busy home, that feature alone was worth it for me and worked exactly as advertised.

    I’m not defending MobileMe as a service that was well behind the innovation curve, but find it important to point out that despite its limited feature set compared to competing services, those services did (and still do) work as advertised.

    That important distinction seems to have been lost in criticisms particularly by some that never used the service or suffered the inflated annual payment.

  3. I have never seen the need to pay for services that others offer for free. I am a happy-as-you-know-it iPhone user syncing every which way with Google mail/calendar/contacts.

    As for iTunes match, why would I want to pay for the privilege of “matching” my 25000 tracks, painstakingly ripped to apple lossless, so that I could listen to them @ 256kbps?

    Maybe for the $24.95 Apple could throw in some surgical procedure so that I could be blissfully unaware of the sound quality difference. Maybe then I could clap-my-hands.

  4. When MobileMe came out (via Fortune):


    Jobs reportedly asked the MobileMe team what the new product was supposed to do. When an employee told Jobs what the purpose of MobileMe was, the CEO reportedly responded: “So why the f— doesn’t it do that?”

    “You’ve tarnished Apple’s reputation…” Jobs reportedly said. “You should hate each other for having let each other down… Mossberg, our friend, is no longer writing good things about us.”