Hey Apple, what good is a status page if you only update it after the outage?
It's not just Cupertino, most status pages aren't what they claim to be
Shortly before 1100 PT, Apple suffered a momentary lapse of service across several products, including its App Store.
Within minutes of the outage, netizens took to social media to complain of errors, failed transactions, and other issues. Downdetector accumulated a few thousand reports in a matter of minutes but its sources are limited.
As outages go, Apple's was nothing out of the ordinary, a momentary blip on an otherwise normal Monday morning. Within an hour, Apple services had started coming back online, and all was more or less well again.
Yet, if you were looking for the cause of the outage, Apple's status page wasn't much help. All you'd have seen was a field of green dots. It was only after the outage had been resolved that Apple saw fit to update the status page.
For those wondering, impacted services included the App Store, Apple Music, TV services, and iTunes. However, apart from the fact "all users were affected" and the services "may have been slow or unavailable," the Apple Status page doesn't offer any specifics as to the cause of the outage either. As of writing, iCloud Mail was the only service that wasn't back online.
Apple's failure to pick up on the outage while it was still happening underscores a longstanding issue with status pages in general. For the most part, status pages aren't that helpful unless something is really broken — like an electrical fire or cooling failure taking out a datacenter.
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As we've previously reported, delays or outright omissions from vendor's status pages is far from unusual. This is down to a host of reasons, ranging from how the company's status page is architected, human behavior, and contractual obligations — service-level agreements — they may have with customers.
As HTTP Toolkit developer Tim Perry told The Register early last year, "These SLAs create disincentives to proactively update the status... Publishing any indication of downtime has a major and direct financial impact, so automated anomaly detection and reporting is out."
And even where SLAs aren't at play, which we suspect is probably the case with Apple, there may be incentive not to update the status page if it has the potential to make the company — or the manager responsible for changing the status — look bad.
For instance, Slack used to share highly detailed outage reports for its service until Reuters used this data to call into question the platform's stability.
The Register reached out to Apple about the outage; we'll let you know if we hear anything back. ®