Apple fury over nixed messages

Is the iMessage bug caused by a sinister conspiracy, user neglect or an honest mistake?

A very small chink was found in Apple's ecosystem armor this week, as a long-running glitch in its iMessage data-based chat system hit the headlines.

The gist is that customers who used iMessage occasionally found Apple's servers refusing to remove their vice-like grip on their mobile numbers. This lead to SMS messages disappearing into the ether when users dumped their iPhones for rival smartphones.

This could be an innocent bug that's lain unreported and unfixed since it first appeared in iOS 5 a few years ago. Or it's proof that Apple's deliberately trying to undermine rival smartphone operating systems by making it look like people's non-Apple phones aren't working as well as their old iPhones did.

It all depends on which comments you read.

Deserters will be shot

Over on Engadget, the very first comment hinted that it's obviously all a conspiracy, orchestrated by the preserved head-in-a-jar of Steve Jobs that resides deep inside Apple. Reader PrasadTiruvalluri asked: "Any reason why they are taking so long to fix this long standing issue? Is it because it does not affect the existing 'loyal' users or is it because it punishes the 'Disloyal' deserters?"

He continued: "Does it not give an incentive for Apple to not fix it so that people stay with Apple if such a basic function could not work if they switch?" A claim that would seem outlandish, were it not for the fact that Apple has somehow managed to rustle up a quick bug fix for the problem as soon as it started generating negative headlines.

Apple's suspiciously quick fix is of no use to reader MartyMcFly, who complained: "After numerous calls to Apple support and getting transferred to the geniuses they told my wife the only fix was to change phone number."

A little further down, reader Jherms claimed he used to work for Apple and it is indeed all a genuine conspiracy, saying: "It's almost anti-competitive. People who switch out would be frustrated enough to return their phones and buy an iPhone again."

Go on, make me

Over on Recode, commenter MalcolmTucker is equally unimpressed by Apple's sudden leap into action, saying: "A company that requires legal action to restore functionality its product takes away isn't really a company worth doing business with."

He continued with a car analogy to put into terms the common man might understand, adding: "They'd rather sell you a new car, or pay for an engine replacement (more revenue) if your engine is filled with sludge. This seems to be Apple's business model."

Reader Zathras took issue with the way the author of the report claimed this flaw was a "horror" for Apple, saying: "Horror is what happens in the Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Steve Ballmer lectures. Not a bug that is being fixed."

Connection error

On Ars Technica, the readers were fantasising about a joined-up future in which Apple open-sources everything and lets everyone play together. LOL. The comedy scenario was offered by reader Chronos42, who imagined: "I'm still dreaming of the day when Apple allows iMessages to be received on Android, therefore alleviating the most significant downside of using it: switching from it."

But that won't happen. Not just because they're entrenched enemies, but because their financial genitals are simply not compatible with each other. This was explained neatly by RedTiger, who said: "Apple develops iOS and runs iCloud (not cheap that's for sure!) from what you pay for your iPhone. Google, in contrast, does not charge you anything but tracks your most private things to sell them to advertisers. The business models are simply not compatible."

Don't blame it on me, sunshine

The sympathy for the afflicted wasn't strong over on Gizmodo, where reader BeowulfRex blamed those hit by the bug for not managing their digital lives properly, summing it up with: "Getting upset because you switched away from using a phone OS provided by Apple and now can't use a service provided by Apple: problem."

This aggressive internet opinion generated stacks of mostly furious engagement, with commenter Mutinous goading: "This really should not be that big a deal but then again iOS users are not the most adaptive folks. Let's face it, three buttons vs. one confuses them."