Sorriest technology companies of 2014

Apple, Google, Microsoft, Snapchat, Samsung all get into the apology line

It’s so far been another sorry, sorry year in the technology industry, with big name companies, hot startups and individuals making public mea culpas for their assorted dumb, embarrassing and other regrettable actions.

Here’s a rundown of the Year in Apologies to date, and somehow I have a feeling it will need to be updated before Dec. 31. (Also: and Sorriest Tech company lists.)

But first, a little mood music, courtesy of Bob Mould, performing "I Apologize" in Boston while I was working on this collection:


Apple: iOS mess

Apple stunk up its own iPhone 6 party by issuing a buggy version of iOS 8 followed up with an even buggier patch, dubbed iOS 8.0.1. Apple quickly pulled the plug on the patch, guided customers how to undo it and yes, offered an apology: "We apologize for the great inconvenience experienced by users, and are working around the clock to prepare iOS 8.0.2 with a fix for the issue." 


Snapchat: Exposed

2013 ended with industry watchers being wowed that Snapchat had reportedly turned down a $3B takeover offer from Facebook. But Snapchat was looking a lot less invincible in January 2014 when it was revealed that the popular photo messaging app had been breached and that millions of user names/phone numbers were exposed on the Web. The company acknowledged its flawed security on Jan. 2, but waited another week before issuing a formal apology about it. 

Google map

Google: Nazi problem

Google apologized in January after a Berlin, Germany intersection known today as Theodor-Heuss-Platz was mistakenly listed as Adolf-Hitler-Platz on Google Maps. Edits submitted to the site by users were mistakenly approved by “mapping volunteers or Google moderators,” according to a statement from Google published by Yahoo News. "In this particular case, the change in the street name was mistakenly approved, and we fixed it as soon as we were made aware. We apologize for any offense caused," the statement read.

Oracle's Ellison: Ever the Sails-man

A year ago this month, thousands of customers waited at the Oracle OpenWorld conference for Larry Ellison to deliver a keynote speech ... but he never turned up. Ellison had chosen to indulge in his other passion, boat racing, and was attending the America’s Cup finals instead. Oracle had sponsored a team in the competition and Ellison was instrumental in bringing the event to San Francisco.

This year, Ellison began his keynote speech with an apology. (See video) “A year ago, I was a no-show at this conference on Tuesday,” he said, getting some laughs from the crowd. “I’d like to take a moment to apologize to everybody, but we were desperately trying to come back from an 8-to-1 deficit in the America’s Cup.”

Facebook: Quite a drag

Facebook apologized in the fall to drag queens and the broader Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender community in the wake of controversy over the site’s names policy, clarifying that users don’t have to use their legal name. “I want to apologize to the affected community of drag queens, drag kings, transgender, and extensive community of our friends, neighbors, and members of the LGBT community for the hardship that we’ve put you through in dealing with your Facebook accounts over the past few weeks,” said Chris Cox, chief product officer at the company.

Dropbox: About that outage

The file sharing site suffered an outage on Jan. 10 that affected some customers for a few others but others off and on throughout the weekend. Speculation swirled that it was a DDoS attack intended to make a statement a year after the death of programmer and Internet activist Aaron Swartz, but Dropbox fessed up that it caused its own problem during a routine server upgrade that went awry: “We know that many of you rely on Dropbox every day — we pride ourselves on reliability, and any downtime is unacceptable. In response, we’re currently building more tools and checks to make sure this doesn’t happen again… We’re sorry for the trouble this caused, and we thank you for your patience and support.”

ethan zuckerman

Pop-up Ad Guy: ‘Nuff said

MIT Media Lab’s Ethan Zuckerman wrote an essay for The Atlantic in August in which he apologized for ruining the Web by coming up with the idea for the pop-up ad while with an early Internet company called Tripod. “I wrote the code to launch the window and run an ad in it. I’m sorry. Our intentions were good.”

marissa mayer may 2014 cropped

Yahoo: Over and over

Yahoo ended 2013 with a 5-day-long email outage that affected some 1 million users and that forced CEO Marissa Mayer to apologize. The company followed that up with an unsportsmanlike tweet about Gmail going down in January, and then shortly after that apologized to its customers for email troubles stemming from what it deemed a coordinated attack (“We regret this has happened and want to assure our

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