Jobs to 2008 MobileMe Team: Why The %@&# Doesn’t It Do That?

| News

In 2008, MobileMe had some problems out of the gate, and according to a new “Inside Apple” piece that Fortune magazine will publish later this week, that resulted in a sharp reprimand from Apple CEO Steve Jobs, an immediate change in executive leadership for the project, and changes in the team’s membership.

According to the magazine’s sources, Mr. Jobs called the MobileMe team into a town hall meeting in one of Apple’s auditoriums after the service launched with problems and garnered unflattering reviews from noted tech commentators like Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Jobs reportedly asked the assembled engineers and other MobileMe team members, “Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?” When one of those employees then volunteered a satisfactory answer, Mr. Jobs followed up with, “So why the fuck doesn’t it do that?”

Steve Jobs asks a question

He then spent some 30 minutes berating the team, telling them that they had “tarnished Apple’s reputation,” and that they, “should hate each other for having let each other down.”

He added, “[Walt] Mossberg, our friend, is no longer writing good things about us.”

According to Fortune, this sort of straight talk and personal accountability is at the heart of how Apple does what it does. The magic we see as users is due in part to the reality that, “[Apple] is a brutal and unforgiving place, where accountability is strictly enforced, decisions are swift, and communication is articulated clearly from the top.”

Fortune is also cleverly using a piece about the inner workings of Apple to promote its iPad app. The article is part of the May issue, and will be pushed out to iPad (and Kindle) on May 11th. The iPad app is free, and users can buy the May issue for US$4.99. Print subscribers can access the iPad edition for free.

Fortune also posted a related video interview with former Apple engineer Andrew Borovsky on what it’s like to work inside the company.

Fortune interview with former Apple engineer Andrew Borovsky

Sign Up for the Newsletter

Join the TMO Express Daily Newsletter to get the latest Mac headlines in your e-mail every weekday.

20 Comments Leave Your Own

Lee Dronick

Too bad Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t work for Steve Jobs.

Burnin'

What I don’t understand is this. Steve is notorious for exercising tight control of things. Why wasn’t he in and out of mobileMe offices often, during its development? Isn’t he famous for keeping tight watches on things? How did it get to be a problem without him knowing it long in advance (and getting it fixed). Obviously he was off the lines. But isn’t he famous for being “on” the lines. So what is up with that?

Garion

Burnin’ said:

How did it get to be a problem without him knowing it long in advance (and getting it fixed).

The problems that plagued MobileMe when it launched wasn’t something that had to do with its front end user functions or interface design. Steve would of course have reviewed those during development. All the problems had to do with terrible implementation of the back end systems, problems that were not apparent to Steve before the product went live and the systems failed. Like Steve said, it simply didn’t do the things it was supposed to do.

Bill

What ever happened to the buck stops here.  In his world, it stops over there with the little guy.

@Bill

What ever happened to the buck stops here.  In his world, it stops over there with the little guy.

That is a cynical comment.

The buck should stop with whoever is doing a poor job at their job.  Steve Jobs is doing a great job.  If someone under him occasionally (key word being occasionally) does a poor job that doesn’t reflect badly on him, especially if he takes immediate action to correct the situation.

dkslc

This is exactly the reason why you release such a wide distribution of software in Beta mode 3-6 months prior to releasing the finished product. That way people understand the risk of using a Beta product. But then Apple’s policy to releasing finished product would come in the way.

They want to jump out of a cake and saying SURPRISE…Well you are going to get some stuff on you that you need to clean up.

I wouldn’t touch their cloud service with a 10 foot pole for at least 6 months. Amazon has a lot of experience with enterprise cloud, but they still get some hiccups. Pretty sure, some initial users are going to lose data.

Remember the 3 important words in computing “backup, backup, backup”.

dkslc

“The Buck stops here” is not a cynical comment. Steve Jobs gets all the credit for ipod, ipad, os x etc etc.. He should also be blamed for mobile me.
It is his policy of not releasing software in Beta mode. You can only do so much in house testing. if they had released the beta mobile me product to public for 1 month, they would have found and fixed the bugs, before a paid subscription release.

prl53

Who believes the sources (informant) for Fortune? Apple isn’t going to let someone from off the street come to any of their meetings. If this garbage is to be believed, someone who was at these meetings—and is no longer with Apple—spilled their guts for money. Everyone is assuming Fortune is telling the truth. What they’re doing with this article is testing new ways to sell magazine subscriptions by teasing people with a little free information at a time to sell an iPad app. This could be a whole lot of lies but since it’s now been written, it’s the TRUTH.

So what if Job’s swore and everyone was yelling at each other. That’s called a “meeting” in my book. A good an honest one.

dhp

?The Buck stops here? is not a cynical comment. Steve Jobs gets all the credit for ipod, ipad, os x etc etc.. He should also be blamed for mobile me.

Wait a second. This was an internal meeting. Jobs didn’t go onstage at WWDC and say “It’s wasn’t me. The MobileMe team screwed up.” You think Jobs should have apologized to the employees?

sseegars

So what is Mobile Me supposed to do. I used it for a bit but it was so damn confusing I finally gave up.

Lee Dronick

So what is Mobile Me supposed to do. I used it for a bit but it was so damn confusing I finally gave up.

Click here.

iphonzie

How about a little editorial consistency here… In the headline, Jobs is quoted as using the word “%@&#”, in the interstitial graphic it says “#&%@”, and in the graphic for the Nuance article, he is quoted saying “#&@%”... So which is it? I really need to know…

Lee Dronick

How about a little editorial consistency here? In the headline, Jobs is quoted as using the word ?%@&#?, in the interstitial graphic it says ?#&%@?, and in the graphic for the Nuance article, he is quoted saying ?#&@%?... So which is it? I really need to know?

Each was part of long string. However, as someone who made a career in the Navy I can tell you when comes to cussing Steve is not very good at it. smile

david

This is exactly the reason why you release such a wide distribution of software in Beta mode 3-6 months prior to releasing the finished product

Really!?! Are you seriously saying that releasing an unfinished product to the public (like what Microsoft does) and risk rendering unusable the computers of whoever try to use such product is the best idea?

SP

The real question that people seem to be ignoring is…why won’t it read?

Atlantaguy

Steve Jobs has done more to hurt Apple’s reputation than his MobileMe team ever did.

Remember the iBook G3 logic boards that went bad and tech reps were told to act like it was an unheard issue?  Until “The Screen Savers” broke the story and Apple had to refund a ton of people they had charged $350 per repair.

Remember the numerous bad battery issues with iPods, Nanos, and Pro Books?  The list goes on - more and more (and more) problems that Mr. Jobs most likely (imo) knew about but kept from customers until he HAD to respond.  Sorry - that over time hurts your reputation a lot more than software that’s overpriced that no one uses not working.

rook

So what is Mobile Me supposed to do. I used it for a bit but it was so damn confusing I finally gave up.

So basically it makes apple products do what products with android OS do in stock form?

dkslc

Really!?! Are you seriously saying that releasing an unfinished product to the public (like what Microsoft does) and risk rendering unusable the computers of whoever try to use such product is the best idea?

Yes!! It is pretty obvious you don’t know how Beta release work. It is made available to the general public for zero dollars. People who try out Beta understand the risks associated with a beta release (not like you) and they usually have their data regularly backed-up

That is so much better than doing a production release, making people pay for it and let them fight the some major bugs. Initial paid Mobile Me service resulted in people losing all their emails. I can give you many other examples, Snow Leopard’s first release - If you had guest account enabled (many do) you could login on any other account on the computer without a password, even if they were password protected. Another one - After logging out of guest account it was deleting all the data in home folder for other’s who were logged in.
I am not saying releasing Beta with make the production release bug free, but it gets field tested without data being put at risk.

Phubai

Steve Jobs has done more to hurt Apple?s reputation than his MobileMe team ever did.

Where oh where is the bubble you are living in located? Obviously not on this earth. Jobs is the reason Apple is the success that they are today. His leadership brought them back from disaster. That is known by everyone, everywhere. Apple loves the way he has hurt the company….they love the way it hurts! You would too if you were a shareholder.

Lee Dronick

The link takes you to the Apple Haters BlogSpot

In a web search put a + after the bit.ly URL

Log-in to comment