12 controversial decisions reversed by tech CEOs, leaders

12 controversial decisions reversed by tech CEOs, leaders

Summary: Everyone loves a controversy, except when it involves them. From brand splits and picking the wrong side over public opinion, we look back at some of the poorly thought-out business decisions made by tech executives and leaders in recent history.

TOPICS: Tech Industry

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  • 10. Apple withdraws, then reapplies to EPEAT environmental rating program

    While millions around the world love Apple's products, it turns out they love its commitment to the environment just as much.

    In June 2012, Apple pulled the plug on its membership to environmental green standard group, the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) group without saying a word or even explaining why. Naturally, the media went on a field day with the news because, frankly, Apple "did a thing." The iPhone and iPad maker played down the reports, saying it would still make its products meet the EPEAT guidelines.

    Just shy of a month later following a deluge of criticism from customers (and a vow from the City of San Francisco to stop buying its products in response to Apple's move), the company's hardware engineer chief Bob Mansfield issued an open letter apologizing for bailing on the greenness standard, and announced it was back on EPEAT. 

    Image: CNET

  • 11. White House vetoes ITC ban decision on older iPhones, iPads

    The U.S. International Trade Commission found earlier this year that Apple had violated a Samsung patent, which led to a ruling that would prevent the iPhone and iPad maker from importing older versions of its smartphones and tablets into the United States.

    The White House wasn't going to stand by this. At the very last minute, the government overruled the court's ruling and effectively reversed the decision. It was the last thing expected on a Saturday evening when, by all accounts, everyone should have been at home or, if they were lucky enough, be in The Hamptons.

    And what happened when Samsung suffered a similar fate? Nothing. President Obama didn't lift a finger. Was it U.S. corporate favoritism? Nobody knows. Or at least, nobody wants to say. (But it probably was. Go 'Merica.)

    Image: White House/Flickr

  • 12. Facebook u-turns on violent videos

    Facebook, like many Silicon Valley companies, has made it know it embraces First Amendment rights to free speech and expression. But it can go too far — particularly with the spread of propaganda-like violent videos that show decapitations.

    The social network kicked up a storm when it said mid-last year it would allow such videos on the site. British Prime Minister David Cameron, head of a country that doesn't have a constitutional right to freedom of speech or expression, naturally led the storm of protest. Facebook reneged on its free speech principles a few days later, reversing a stance it took just 24 hours previously, and removed a video that had circulated far and wide.

    The company said it would consider removal of violent and graphic imagery in future, but will be evaluated and based on community standards policy violations.

    Image: CBS News

Topic: Tech Industry

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  • Bad decisions

    The biggest baddest decision was to put Windows 8 on desktops, and then push them out on the dumb public. The second biggest bad decision was to turn it into Windows 8.1
    I have Windows on my phone and it is great. I have tried Windows 8 and 8.1 on desktops a few times, and it is not great. Windows 7 is better in so many ways.
    Paul on the Mesa
    • I love my Surface RT with Windows 8.1 but...

      I have to agree with you at least as far as desktops and non-touch devices go. First Windows 8 came with zero gesture clues as to how to use it. Heck, MS's own user testing showed that some people took hours trying to figure out how to use the UI and many were frustrated. Then there is the missing start button, which at lease provided an anchor back to the start screen.

      Windows 8.1 fixed these top two but the notion of running full window'ed (or panes as MS likes to call them now), even if you can open a couple (up to 4 I think with an external monitor) still makes no sense on a desktop computer. And the tiles also really serve no purpose on a desktop but just mucks up a application lists (this is not a dig on the start screen itself but just the square tiles on the screen).

      Etc and so on. Windows 8(.1) is a fail on many levels. Its great on touch devices like the Surface and even laptops but non-touch devices it just mucks everything up and now it has bad press which is like a stink on a tech product.
      Rann Xeroxx
    • It's only a "Bad" decision for you...

      Some people can't handle change.

      All you have to do is think of "Metro"as your start menu.

      In 8.1 you can choose to boot directly to the desktop, so it's NOT really that bad an OS IMO.

      Some people just have a hard time looking at it from a different view. It's NOT that big a deal and its NOT the end of the world IMO.

      Don't like 8.1, then don't use it...but don't be so blind to think others are having the same amount of trouble adapting as you.

      Some things take time...and some people have more patience than others.

      ~Best wishes keeping what you earned.
      • "Some people can't handle change."

        Or, put better, most people don't handle BAD change, and Windows 8 is as bad as change comes.
      • In other words...

        ...the problem isn't with Windows 8, but with ignorant, reactionary users.

        This is not a good attitude for corporate executives to have. Hopefully, you're only typing for yourself.
        John L. Ries
      • Some people can't handle change...

        This comment is nothing but total BS! I am tired of reading it. People who utter it are the biggest part of the problem. I am 68 years old. I have been working on PC related products for over 30 years, both as a software developer and an end user. I have Windows 8.1 on my HP desktop and Windows 7.0 on my wife's. I have a Dell laptop with Windows XP. I have a working IBM PS2 laptop. I have a Apple New iPad. We both have Android smartphones. We, like most of our peers, are not reluctant to change and can handle it very well. We have lived with it all our lives.

        People who utter this immature comment don't have a clue about who ultimately pays their salaries. The old adage, "The customer is always right.", is as true today as it ever was. My first experience with the software development cycle back in 1985 was very enlightening. I was assigned to work with an "expert" developer during the initial testing process for a new software application. When I reported that end users were having problems making mistakes during data entry. The "expert" responded, "If they are making mistakes like that, they should not be sitting at the keyboard." Hopefully, you understand my point.

        It is the developer's job to make sure that inappropriate input does not happen. Personal computers and the Internet have been around long enough that this should be common knowledge to all of us. Windows 8 is a perfect example of software being released to the public with little thought being given to the needs of the majority of users who would be using it. A defensive posture on the part of the managers and developers is a sure sign of immaturity and reveals a significant lack of understanding about the consumer marketplace.

        Yes, software developers are responsible for understanding who their customers are. Without that knowledge, it is impossible to meet their needs. The time is long overdue for information technology managers to make this requirement their top priority.

        In summary, I will use a statement I first heard when I was a salesman back in 1972, "If you take care of your customers, your customers will take care of you."
        • I can't handle NEGATIVE change...

          I agree that it is a very narrow minded person who postulates that the hate for Windows 8 is based on opposition to change. Such people apparently have little clue that real desktop users have more things to do than spend their whole existence in one app such as Facebook.

          Windows 8 is not "windows". If it were, then Metro apps could be run in a sizeable window. Instead the 'DirecTV remote' app wastes five times the screen real estate that it needs! Removing the [sizeable] windows feature is destroying the very purpose/utility of "Windows." Don't tell me that making Windows Apps operate like the DOS programs of yesteryear is a change I need to adapt to. Windows 8 rolls back the functionality of the last 20 years -= a steep price for security improvements.

          Also explain to me why I should welcome the 'change' of removing the cascading programs menu. If this change represents "progress" then why wasn't the Windows File Explorer also 'improved' to show all 269,078 files on my C: drive as tiles on one massive screen that scrolls horizontally for miles?

          Obviously, the changes in Windows 8 are not progress. They are frustrating losses of productivity; a backtracking of all the improvements that the prior versions of Windows brought us. Don't disparage 'real' Windows users as rejecting change - we favor progress, not digression.
    • Bad as in the Bad Way to Be Baddest

      One does realize that the -est suffix denotes an absolute and unless one wishes to be dismissed as hyperbolic or pitifully unaware of all the poor decisions tech companies have made over the last 60 years, I would suggest more caution.

      As a disinterested third party, I'd say Microsoft is still standing and doing well as we enjoy month 13 of Windows 8 deployment.

      I'd also say that the dual nature of the interface suggests a lack of decision making, but reasonable people may disagree on that point.

      Adam Osborne's billboarding of version 2 features while version 1 was going to be the company's sole product for months was clearly a poorer decision than whatever thing you have against Windows 8.

      Regardless, unlike the interface in Windows 8, Osborne's error was not a bell that could be unrung. He lost the company.

      As to Mr. Whitaker's notes, the HP "decision" to sell the pc business was not as firm as Apotheker made it out to be. Ms. Whitman's walk back has been surprisingly indifferent and I don't think it's quite off the table. HP has certainly moved some chips away from the Microsoft bet.
  • Nice article, but needs editing

    Image 6: "Had it passed Congress, it would've allowed rights holders (and fraudsters) see websites shutter based on claims they allegedly infringe copyright." I think there's some missing verbiage here. It would have allowed rights holders (and fraudsters) to do what?

    Image 9: "the company said it raises prices when the supply of cars is higher than usual." should probably be 'demand for' instead of 'supply of'.
  • Any excuse for a Marissa Meyer photo

    She publicly discusses the telecommuting ban, sticks by her guns, and still gets a mention.

    Having a photogenic CEO does seem to get a company extra media coverage.
    John L. Ries
    • I was thinking the same thing about Mayer

      She did not reverse her decision so why is she included?

      She is lucky Yahoo has a major stake in Alibaba that can be used to pad her numbers and make Yahoo appear to be successful.
  • A Photo of Star Trek: The Next Generation

    About the photo of Mr. Worf and Captain Picard, could anyone guess what episode it is with his hand extended like that?

    The Next Generation and Voyager are one of my favorites when it comes to starships and technologies. Crew members of the series (even Data, Spock, Geordi La Forge, and Tuvok) are secondary.

    Pardon me for going off-topic. Heh.
    Grayson Peddie
    • Can't name it exactly but

      I think he was talking to Q.
      • Hmm... Could it be "Qpid?"

        I'll have to watch that in Netflix tomorrow. I'm not a big fan of him, though, taunting Captain Picard for nothing.
        Grayson Peddie
  • ZDnet recycles

    Recycling old news.
  • Bad Decisions

    Number one on this list should be the decision by Texas Instruments NOT to make the TI-PC IBM compatable. Arguably a decision that directly led to the success of PCs Ltd, later known as Dell Computer, now Dell. Easily a Hundred Billion dollar mistake.
  • Can ZDNet reverse its decision...?

    ...to create slideshows than span pages for the sake of extra clicks and ad impressions? Sheesh. It's 2014 already.
  • Go America

    Yeah in other words we only care about the law when it suits us.
    Great country that, Americans should be proud that they have such an unjust legal system where court rulings can be overturned at a whim by the government.
  • Show the Beheadings!

    There are many people deserving decapitation, including quite a few heads of government and chiefs of state. More power to the implementers, recorders, and publicists of these patriotic and most positive efforts!
  • EVERYTHING GREEN ought to go!

    GREEN is greedy self-serving and genocidal religious cult claptrap.