Apple’s Meltdown

by Dean Mattson

Apple’s been on such a roll for so long now, you start to take it for granted. Even when they have taken a hit, like they did last year when they were accused of gouging their customers with the high price of the original iPhone, they barely flinch as they keep barreling ahead.

That’s what made today’s meltdown that much more surprising. The company couldn’t seem to get anything right.

  • They were supposed to launch MobileMe service after a six hour outage Wednesday night, but a day and a half later they were still struggling to get it online.
  • Yesterday they added the much anticipated Apps Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch to iTunes, but they were unable to get the required firmware update out so anyone could make use of it. (Even more bizarrely, savvy users discovered the updates on Apple’s servers and began passing around the information. I wouldn’t be surprised if more people updated today through this informal backchannel than those that were able to update through “proper” means.)
  • If all that wasn’t enough, today was the big launch of the new 3G iPhone. Unfortunately for all the customers who actually came out and stood in line, many were unable to activate their new phones once they bought them.

What made all of this ten times worse was the total lack of communication from Apple during these difficulties. Would it have been so hard for someone to put something on their website explaining what’s going on and when they’d have it fixed? Instead, there was nothing.

Today should have been a huge winner for them. They had a good new phone to show off and that App Store is going to be a huge home run for them. Luckily, this is going to be only a short-term p.r. hit for them, not a long-term one that a bad product could cause. But they need to realize that while this big culture of secrecy adds suspense when they’re announcing a product, it only adds anger when things go wrong when they’re selling them.