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The sorriest tech companies of 2012

No, really, they're sorry! Vendors apologise in 2012 for everything from Apple Maps to Cisco Connect Cloud to outage after outage and breach after breach

Please forgive us, tech users

2012 was yet another year filled with heartfelt and legally forced apologies from tech vendors, including the biggest names: Apple, Cisco, Microsoft and Google, among others. Company execs apologised in person, via press releases and via social media in an attempt to keep customers from fleeing - or killing them on Twitter and Facebook. But don't worry, everyone will be perfect in 2013.

We quite like John Cleese's apology in the film "A Fish Called Wanda" - perhaps tech CEOs should take a leaf out of his book.

Apple Maps

Amid all the excitement over iPhone 5 and its new iOS 6 software, Apple maddened customers by ditching Google Maps and swapping in an inferior Apple Maps app. CEO Tim Cook vowed to make up for this:

"At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better."

Cisco Connect Cloud

Not that there's anything wrong with Cisco Connect Cloud; users of the company's high-end Linksys router just didn't want it forced on them. And they feared Cisco was snooping on them. Cisco responded in July by making the service opt-in, and apologising:

"We believe lack of clarity in our own terms of service has contributed to many of our customers' concerns, and we apologize for the confusion and inconvenience this has caused. Cisco Connect Cloud and Cisco Linksys routers do not monitor or store information about how our customers are using the Internet and we do not arbitrarily disconnect customers from the Internet. The Cisco Connect Cloud Service has never monitored customers' Internet usage, nor was it designed to do so ..."

BlueToad server hack

Digital publishing company BlueToad revealed in September that the unique identifiers of some 1 million Apple iOS devices that hackers leaked were swiped from its servers. CEO Paul DeHart's admission that his company was the hacking victim helped clear suspicion from the FBI, which the Antisec-affiliated hacking group claimed to have taken the UDIDs from. DeHart said in an interview with MSNBC that his company did change its code to comply with stricter Apple guidelines earlier this year, but that the hackers got access to information stored via older code.

Microsoft behaviour

With all the challenges to its Office and Windows products, does Microsoft really need headaches like these, too? Among the issues Microsoft has apologised for in 2012: a coder slipping the term "big boobs" into software code connecting the Linux kernel to Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualisation product and a raunchy dance routine that preceded an Azure presentation in Norway.

On the less racy side, Microsoft also apologised to a blogger in March in the wake of a Windows Phone marketing promotion called "Smoked by Windows Phone" that proved unfair when store employees failed to recognise the blogger's Samsung Galaxy Nexus the winner of a $1,000 laptop prize.

GoDaddy Outage

GoDaddy's internal investigation of a six-plus hour outage on 10 September for website and domain service business and its 52 million customers concluded that it was caused by a "series of internal network events that corrupted router database tables," not a hacker attack, as was first suspected by many after a supposed Anonymous affiliate initially took credit. GoDaddy emphasised that while customers websites went dark, their personal data was not compromised.

CEO Scott Wagner issued an apology in which he wrote: "We take our business and our customers' businesses very seriously. We apologize to our customers for these events and thank them for their patience." GoDaddy also awarded customers one month of credits.

Google earnings snafu, Gmail outage

When you're a company as wide-ranging as Google, you're always good for at least a few high profile apologies during the year. Among the 2012 offerings: a hoarse-voiced CEO Larry Page apologising during an analysts' call during October for the company's accidental release of its numbers too early ("I'm sorry for the scramble earlier today") and then in April and June, mea culpas issued for Gmail outages.

LinkedIn breach

LinkedIn, in June, confirmed reports that some of its users' passwords were compromised after reports surfaced that about 6.5 million LinkedIn passwords were compromised and posted online in a Russian hacker forum, in large part because LinkedIn was using a weak hashing algorithm. The business-oriented social network site quickly updated its security and ensured users who updated their passwords that they’d be in much better shape.

Here's what one LinkedIn VP blogged, in part: "We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused our members. We take the security of our members very seriously. If you haven't read it already it is worth checking out my earlier blog post today about updating your password and other account security best practices."

Sophos antivirus

Security firm Sophos apologised in September for wreaking havoc on its customers' networks after a bad update to its antivirus software caused false positives for certain malware to occur on Windows machines. Sophos was upfront about the issue: "We would like to apologise for all the disruption caused to our many customers worldwide. We recognise the issue is very serious, and are doing everything we can to resolve it." Sophos said in its critical advisory that it thinks the problem was caused by a release from SophosLab for use with its Live Protection system.

Amazon cloud crashes

People tend to notice when Amazon Web Service's cloud offerings collapse, not that they necessarily realise Amazon is involved. Rather, it's the companies whose websites depend on AWS (Netflix, Pinterest, Reddit, etc.) that get noticed, and often wind up apologising to their customers. Both Amazon and its customers issued apologies in June/July and October/November as the result of two big AWS outages, the summer one triggered in large part by storm-fueled power outages and the most recent one caused by a hardware upgrade (and "latent memory bug" issue), plus an overaggressive traffic throttling policy.

Nokia Lumia 920 promo

The old not-so-hidden cameraman trick: As Network World's Colin Neagle wrote in September, "Nokia was caught red-handed in a lie, after tech bloggers spotted a cameraman capturing a video the company claimed was shot with its new, highly touted Lumia 920 smartphone. After apologising, Nokia posted a real video shot with the smartphone, displaying the optical image stabilisation (OIS) camera technology that was faked on the first try."

Tech bloggers spotted in the video a reflection of a cameraman with a professional camera actually taking the shot of a women on a bicycle.

The company said its main fault was failing to publish "a disclaimer stating this was a representation of OIS only."

Path social journal app

Path, a social networking app for iPhone and Android devices, apologised in February after it came to light that the company was grabbing iPhone contact info and sticking it on its own servers. CEO Dave Morin wrote in part:

"We made a mistake. Over the last couple of days users brought to light an issue concerning how we handle your personal information on Path, specifically the transmission and storage of your phone contacts. ... Through the feedback we've received from all of you, we now understand that the way we had designed our 'Add Friends' feature was wrong. We are deeply sorry if you were uncomfortable with how our application used your phone contacts."

  • Please forgive us, tech users
  • Apple Maps
  • Cisco Connect Cloud
  • BlueToad server hack
  • Microsoft behaviour
  • GoDaddy Outage
  • Google earnings snafu, Gmail outage
  • LinkedIn breach
  • Sophos antivirus
  • Amazon cloud crashes
  • Nokia Lumia 920 promo
  • Path social journal app
  • Play
  • Play
  • Backward
  • Forward

Microsoft behaviour

With all the challenges to its Office and Windows products, does Microsoft really need headaches like these, too? Among the issues Microsoft has apologised for in 2012: a coder slipping the term "big boobs" into software code connecting the Linux kernel to Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualisation product and a raunchy dance routine that preceded an Azure presentation in Norway.

On the less racy side, Microsoft also apologised to a blogger in March in the wake of a Windows Phone marketing promotion called "Smoked by Windows Phone" that proved unfair when store employees failed to recognise the blogger's Samsung Galaxy Nexus the winner of a $1,000 laptop prize.

2012 was yet another year filled with heartfelt and legally forced apologies from tech vendors, including the biggest names: Apple, Cisco, Microsoft and Google, among others. Company execs apologised in person, via press releases and via social media in an attempt to keep customers from fleeing - or killing them on Twitter and Facebook. But don't worry, everyone will be perfect in 2013.

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