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Tech’s Biggest Cases of Humble Pie

mee“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.”

On Friday Apple CEO Tim Cook made the apology few expected. He admitted the company’s hugely controversial iOS6 Maps were not up to scratch. It was an honest admission few had expected. More surprising, however, was Cook’s decision to go a step further and suggest third party alternatives: “While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.” Yes, he included Google.

All of which got us thinking? What are some of the most notorious cases of technology giants eating a fat slice of humble pie?

Ballmer

Microsoft on Windows Vista Failings
Steve Ballmer may be wondering if Cook’s admission opens up a chink Windows Phone can exploit with its licensing of the excellent Nokia Maps, but it wasn’t so long ago he was also paying penance and on a much larger product – Windows Vista.

“It was just not executed well, not the product itself, but we went a gap of about five, six years without a product. I think back now, and I think about thousands of man-years and it wasn’t because we were wrong-minded and thinking bad thoughts and not pushing innovation. We tried too big a task, and in the process wound up losing essentially thousands of man-years of innovation capability.”

Another stunning mea culpa and it was justified given the 5 1/2 year development time and the widely held opinion it wasn’t until service pack two was released in mid 2009 (two years after release) that Vista finally matured. The problem? Ballmer’s apology didn’t come until May 2010.

Sony on PSN Outage

Name, address, password, payment details, purchase history and profile data were among the user information exposed when Sony’s PlayStation Network and Qriocity entertainment service were hacked in April 2011. 77 million customers were affected in one of the biggest data breaches in history and full restoration of all services took 24 days. It exposed fundamental weaknesses in Sony’s security format and the company was attacked repeatedly during this time.

“The last few weeks have been tough for all of us” announced Kazuo Hirai, Sony’s then president of consumer products at the height of the crisis. “Please know we are doing everything we can to fully restore network around the world and to regain your trust over the days, weeks and months to come.”

The video apology was famously made with relaxation music playing in the background. It clearly worked, in April this year Hirai was appointed as president and CEO of Sony Corporation.

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