Wednesday, July 30, 2008

MobileMe Mess Maybe Gone?

Last night, Apple claimed to have fixed the MobileMe problems that have plagued “1%” of its users. I am curious to see whether the ill-will it generated from that “1%” will dissipate or having lingering effects. (Note that’s 1% of subscribers, not 1% of Mac, iPod or iPhone users).

In its (largely successful) efforts to attract switchers from Windows, I wonder if Apple realize that it’s changed the game on itself. For years, it had legions of highly loyal Mac fanatics who would use a Mac no matter how many frustrations, obstacles, or business model irritations were thrown in our way: the Mac was a better product and there was no way we would use Windoze.

However, the latest switchers have much less of a history and — if they face initial problems – are likely to switch back. And those who have two years of history with Apple are more likely to switch in the face of problems than those who have 20. If Apple really does have 20% of the US consumer market and 8.5% overall, then the majority of their Mac sales come from the recent converts rather than the 3% hard core that stuck with Apple through 1996-1999.

Apple has enjoyed a halo effect from their laptops, desktops, MP3 players and now their cellphone, one that has attracted casual users and allowed them to command premium prices. A slight amount on the tarnish could stop their revenue growth, even if 99% of their MobileMe customers (and 99.99% of all their customers) were unaffected by the recent fiasco.

BTW, my earlier MobileMe posting was the first one picked up by Seeking Alpha, the stock analyst blog federation. It appears an article on Seeking Alpha gets 100x or 1000x the viewers on this blog, but since they are only picking up a fraction of the postings (two in the past week) my focus will still be on this blog.

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