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Most memorable tech industry apologies of 2012: From Apple to Google to Microsoft

Bob Brown | Nov. 9, 2012
Tech vendors have been as bombastic as ever promoting the magical and amazing things their latest smartphones, cloud computing wares and network gear can do. When things go wrong, they're naturally a little less visible, but plenty of companies have sucked it up and done the right thing this year (perhaps with a little legal prodding here and there) and publicly apologized for minor and major customers inconveniences.

*T-Mobile: Sorry about the sneaky ads

T-Mobile USA begged for forgiveness in April after slipping advertisements onto Android smartphone customers' update notification screens promoting the carrier's free VIP Zone offering. The carrier stopped the practice after the complaints came rolling in.

The apology: "During a recent software update, a message to promote T-Mobile's free VIP Zone was mistakenly sent to certain customers and appeared on the notification bar for some Android devices. After T-Mobile was made aware of this mistake, the company stopped the notifications. T-Mobile apologizes for the inconvenience this may have caused customers."


*Motorola, Woot clean up their acts

Motorola Mobility in February warned people who bought but then returned Android-based Motorola Xoom tablets between March and October last year that the devices might have been resold by bargain-of-the-day website Woot with the ex-owners' sensitive data still on them. Motorola said that about 100 out of a batch of 6,200 Xoom tablets that it refurbished "may not have been completely cleared of the original owner's data prior to resale." The tablets were resold by Woot between October and December 2011.

Data possibly accessible on the uncleaned tablets could include photos and documents, as well as user names and passwords for social media, email and other accounts, Motorola acknowledged.

The company issued a statement of apology: "Motorola sincerely regrets and apologizes for any inconvenience this situation has caused the affected customers. Motorola is committed to rigorous data protection practices in order to protect its customers, and will continue to take the necessary steps to achieve this objective."

*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 apologizing during an analysts' call in 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. In April, Google apologized "for the inconvenience," thanked Gmail users for their "patience and continued support" and said that it is continually making improvements to its "system reliability," which the company considers "a top priority." However, as many as 4.8 million users were affected by another outage in June. In July, Google found itself apologizing for a Google Talk outage as well. "Please rest assured that system reliability is a top priority at Google, and we are making continuous improvements to make our systems better."

As for the premature release of its earnings statement, Google ultimately pointed to a mistake by financial printer RR Donnelley. Google's stock price got pounded for the error and hadn't quite recovered even a month later.


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