Apple (AAPL) had a real hit with the iPhone 6 introduction -- so much so that when it began taking orders on Friday, the flood of traffic crashed the Apple Store. It was restored but availability has been intermittent.
The problem has a silver lining, as it likely means Apple's financial results through the rest of the calendar year will be rosy, even if broad popularity for the Apple Watch is unclear. But combined with the video streaming outage during Tuesday's product introduction event, it's a reminder that Apple has yet to completely master the highest demand situations in cloud computing -- an area that is critical to the company's strategy.
Apple's interest in cloud computing is significant. Both consumer and business online services have increasingly shifted to cloud models. Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT), Amazon (AMZN), and many others, including such younger companies as Dropbox and Box, have embraced cloud computing and built entire business around it. Even such social networks as Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR) are essentially cloud-based services.
Apple doesn't have its iCloud for nothing. The company also recently reduced its storage prices and increased available capacity on its paid plans, according to an email supplied to CBS MoneyWatch. But cloud computing success requires stability and availability, even under the most pressing demands. Outages of any cloud service become significant news, as all the companies in the space can attest.
However, cloud services have also matured. Continuous service is expected. Apple had multiple signs of fragility within a week. In addition to the iPhone 6 sales glitches, the event streaming was a disaster for many. Massive problems turned into a Twitter storm. As one person noted, the Apple keynote became the "keynope."
Apple fans might write all this off as unimportant. Success can be its own defense when you sell tens of millions of products in a quarter. For Apple's future, however, the view is different. Big cloud execution problems raise the question of whether Apple can handle the needs of large companies. "Apple simply didn't provision and plan for the event properly," Frost & Sullivan analyst Dan Rayburn noted.
Apple has also had problems in the past with managing the rush of orders for earlier models of iPhones. For the same issue of unavailability to happen suggests that the company has yet to learn from previous mistakes.