The iPhone 3G's hype and buzz has quickly turned to discontent as the product's software and services have struggled with a variety of bugs, crashes, and outages. The latest is an outbreak of iPhone 3G boot failures.
A month ago, the technology world was all aflutter over the release of Apple's iPhone 3G. However, the honeymoon is definitely over.
The iPhone 3G and the iPhone 2.0 software that powers it — plus upgrades the original iPhone and the iPod Touch to the 2.0 platform — have been plagued by a rash of errors, crashes, software problems, and service outages since the widely-hyped launch on July 11.
The latest problem is an outbreak of iPhone 3G boot failure complaints, as reported by ZDNet (TechRepublic's sister site). Journalists, IT professionals, and users have reported other problems as well, ranging from multiple software crashes that require a full device restore each time, to bad applications that lock up the device, to general bugginess that has resulted in an unstable device that is user-hostile.When Apple released its first major software update (2.0.1) on August 4, Engadget Editor-in-Chief Ryan Block wrote (on Twitter), "Freaking FINALLY. This 2.0.1 firmware update can't load up soon enough. Take the pain away!" Also on Twitter, Macworld Editorial Director Jason Snell reacted by writing, "iPhone 2.0.1 update: 'Bug fixes.' No shit, Apple."
Both of those guys do a lot of coverage of Apple products, so their informal remarks paint a pretty clear picture of the kind of frustration that has been bubbling up over with the second generation iPhone platform.
However, the worst problems have been with Apple's MobileMe service, which was supposed to provide e-mail, contact, and calendar syncing for users that don't have an Exchange server. The service has been a complete fiasco. It tried to launch on July 11 with the iPhone 3G but Apple couldn't get it up. Once it finally did go live, it suffered through a string of outages, lost e-mails for thousands of users, and lost calendar data as well.
In an internal e-mail to Apple employees this week, Steve Jobs wrote:
"The launch of MobileMe was not our finest hour. There are several things we could have done better: MobileMe was simply not up to Apple's standards – it clearly needed more time and testing... It was a mistake to launch MobileMe at the same time as iPhone 3G, iPhone 2.0 software and the App Store."
In his article Apple: Shut down MobileMe immediately, Jason O'Grady ran a poll asking whether Apple should shut down the service. Over 3,000 users responded and the largest group of them (36%) thought that Apple should shut it down and wait to reopen it until the service was truly ready for prime time.
Jobs ended his message to the Apple troops by saying, "The vision of MobileMe is both exciting and ambitious, and we will press on to make it a service we are all proud of by the end of this year."
It looks like Steve needs to apply that same approach to not just MobileMe, but the entire iPhone 2.0 platform.
Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.