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We are not sure what’s happening with Apple Mail (it cannot find its own SMTP server, if you can believe that!); I have been off Apple’s core in-OS app for over a WEEK. People are screaming on the forums; businesses unable to access business emails; IT guys apologising for recommending Apple, etc., etc. The suspicion is that the problem is tied to the new iCloud that’s coming in in a month or so, and the fact that Mobile Me is being phased out (including that on-line gallery function I use all the time for my photography clients) and it’s not being replaced by an iCloud version—and all this for customers like myself who have happily paid for a MobileMe account since it began. Not good.

But, it gives me a reason for testing apps like gmail (I have always had an account there because you can’t have a YouTube channel without one); it seems to work just fine. I simply set mail forwarding from my dot mac account. And so I thought I’d test the calendar function—I am software neutral: if it works (or works better) I’ll switch.

People may not be aware of this, but there seems to have been a dumbing down of both the OS with the switch to Lion, and the release of hitherto “Pro” apps like Final Cut Pro X. The week, Apple took the absolutely unprecedented step of re-releasing the old (my current) version of FCP, even though officially it has been superseded by Final Cut Pro X—which has been pilloried by the pros. No one in the film and/or television world has switched—and that’s because despite the name, it is an upgraded version of the consumer program (whose name I forget) and a massive simplification of the very complex program that FCP 7 is.

Interesting times. Apple still makes the best hardware, but with its core app, Mail, not working, and Lion bringing a sense of the iOS in, with various folders being hidden, etc., and all the gestures you can now use on the trackpad, and its flagship program utterly panned by pros who have literally built whole business around this software, we may be seeing a sea-change in the world’s most profitable company. I have never seen criticism of any of Apple’s past direction changes like this before: it looks as though Apple just wants to focus on iPads, iPhones, and the hardware (like my many laptops!). Many of us hope this is not true, but there are no comforting sounds audible from Cupertino.