August 11, 2008

GMail and Apple's MobileMe Holding an Outage Contest

Apple's replacement for .Mac, MobileMe, has been roundly mocked for its spotty uptime since rollout last month, drawing the company's CEO, Steve Jobs to apologize for the lack of quality in an internal memo. But even following an internal reorganization and the public thrashing, users, including me, were unable to access their e-mail for a good portion of the afternoon - even as the company's MobileMe Status page shows no updates since the end of July.

Not to be outdone, the most popularly cited alternative to MobileMe, Google's GMail, has also suffered outages this afternoon, locking its many users out of their e-mail, again, including me.

At the beginning of the issues with MobileMe Mail, Apple famously said the outages were only impacting a small 1 percent of users, despite widespread complaints throughout the Web. Today's outage, which Apple reported lasted about a half hour, cited only that "MobileMe members were unable to access MobileMe mail", so that indicates a full outage.

GMail, on the other hand, says, "We’re sorry, but your Gmail account is currently experiencing errors," without going into detail as to how widespread the issues are. GMail even goes the extra mile to promise "your account data and messages are safe." A discussion sparked by Shey Smith on FriendFeed shows the outages don't appear to have hit everyone.

The 1-2 punch of the outages has made discussion of the downtime the top conversation starters on Twitter, even higher than the Beijing Olympics or the Russia/Georgia skirmish. People must really hate having their e-mail interrupted!