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May 16, 2014

5 of the most grovelling technology company apologies

Who's eaten the biggest humble pies?

By Vinod

In spite of the mountains of preperation that often comes with technology releases, sometimes mistakes do creep through. Whether a simple programming error, bad marketing or just an awful product, consumers can quickly go off a brand. So holding your hands up and apologising can sometimes be the best cause of action.

Here’s our selection of instances when ‘sorry’ really did seem to be the hardest word.

PlayStation Network (April 2011)

When Sony’s PSN network was hacked, affecting millions of PS3 and PSP players, the outcry was fierce. The company was criticised for not informing users quickly enough that their details might have been stolen, and for not have the proper encryption processes in place to protect user data.

In response, Sony was hit with a variety of lawsuits in several different countries, and had to pay out damages in the millions of dollars. It also paid out compensation in the form of free games for its customers, which also severely cost the company in terms of revenue.

O2 (July 2012)

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O2 suffered a major embarrassment in July 2012, when a network outage left most of its eight million subscribers unable to send calls or receive texts for a 24 hour period. The company’s Twitter profile was bombarded with expletive-filled messages as customers let fly with both barrels, gaining huge traction across the social media landscape. The company took an unocnvential response to improving the situation, replying to messages in a jokey, self-deprecating fashion, but still ended up losing many customers.

BlackBerry (October 2011)

BlackBerry was just experiencing the beginning of its popular downturn in 2011, so when users were hit with several blackouts in October of that year, customers across the globe were quick to vent their anger. Up to 70 million users were affected, with some left without services for up to three days, forcing then-CEO Thorsten Heims into a humiliating apology. Speculation on the cause fell on insufficient backup infrastructure from the company, which had apparently grown too fast in its boom days without the necessary framework to maintain its large customer base.

Apple (September 2012)

Probably one of the most high-profile apologies in the modern technology world, Apple CEO Tim Cook ate his crow in September 2012 to apologise for the buggy mess that was the iOS 6 Apple Maps app.

In an open letter posted on Apple’s website nine days after the release, Cook said the company was ‘extremely sorry for the frustration’ its Maps app has caused customers. He apologised for the company ‘falling short’ in its long-standing commitment in developing world-class products.

Microsoft Xbox One & Kinect (September 2013)

The release of Microsoft’s Xbox One games console was eagerly awaited by its fans, who were keen to get stuck into next-generation games featuring eye-meltingly good graphics. Upon its announcement, however, they were less happy with the fact that the console would be ‘always on’, primarily in order to keep games updated, but also meaning that the console’s accompanying Kinect motion-capture accessory, used for certain games, would remain on and recording even when not in use.

Facing concerns over ‘spying’ into people’s homes without their consent, Microsoft executives hurriedly moved to remove the ‘always on’ function from the console, but many casual gamers had already been lost and moved towards the Sony PS4 camp instead.

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