Biggest tech fails of 2017

From the tech giants that let fake news run amok, to the ridesharing company that had an Uber-bad run, these were the year's most notable disappointments.
By Joal Ryan, Contributor
1 of 20 Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Fake news fails

So much for Mark Zuckerberg's "pretty-crazy-idea" claim that fake news on Facebook influenced the 2016 presidential election. In October, Facebook, Google, and Twitter execs were called to Capitol Hill to answer for their collective failure to combat Russian-backed propaganda.

In December, Google's YouTube copped to its own responsibility fail: allowing extremist, child-exploiting, terms-of-use-violating videos to flourish on its platform.

2 of 20 Brent Lewin/Getty Images for Pepsi via CBS News

Pepsi's cringe-worthy Kendall Jenner ad

In April, Pepsi dropped a YouTube spot showing the model/reality star defusing a Black Lives Matter-esque protest by giving soda to a police officer. Wired said the spot "united the internet" in that everyone hated it. The next day, a shamed Pepsi pulled the ad.

3 of 20 Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

K5s KO'd

A year after a K5 was accused of running over a toddler, the hits kept coming for the security-robot line. First, a K5 sustained scratches when a man "assaulted" the robot while it patrolled the California headquarters of its parent company, Knightscope. Then, in Washington, D.C., another K5 was found face down in a fountain at the mall it was policing.

Knightscope said reports of the robot's death were "greatly exaggerated," and that no foul play was suspected.

4 of 20 Bloomberg TV via CNET

James Damore's memo

In August, a diversity-attuned Google fired the engineer who authored an internal memo that stated "biological causes ... may explain why we don't see equal representation of women in tech and leadership."

5 of 20 MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

Tesla Model 3 delays

"Production bottlenecks" slowed delivery of the long-anticipated, $35,000 sedan; prospective buyers, however, were reported to be keeping the electric faith.

6 of 20 Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

iPhone 8's meh debut

This much-ballyhooed smartphone's year was "meh" and "meh"-er. Upon its release in September, CNET called the iPhone 8 a "status quo upgrade." Carriers went on to report weak interest in the device, especially when compared to the "winning" iPhone X , which arrived in November.

7 of 20 Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Uber's very bad year

The ridesharing company faced a potential class-action lawsuit alleging the rape of women passengers. An internal investigation probed sexual harassment in the workplace, and sparked the resignation of CEO Travis Kalanick.

The company stayed mum on the hack of 57 million accounts, and saw its driverless trial run into trouble in Pittsburgh. For bad measure, the hashtag #DeleteUber became a thing.

8 of 20 iStockphoto/Getty Images

Equifax's mega-fails

The shot: A "massive" breach at the consumer-credit-reporting company imperiled the data of more than 140 million people, nearly half the US population.

The chaser: The Equifax website itself was found to be serving up adware.

9 of 20 Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The threat to net neutrality

"We're talking about the future of the internet here," CBSi distinguished lecturer David Gerwitz wrote for ZDNet in December.

Gerwitz said the Federal Communication Commission's "deeply disturbing" proposal to delete Part 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations would "completely [remove] the no-blocking, no-throttling, and no-paid-prioritization protections."

10 of 20 Electronic Arts

'Star Wars Battlefront II' muffs microtransactions

When gamers discovered that the then-forthcoming Star Wars Battlefront II featured major characters that required up to 40 hours of play -- or a fee -- to unlock, all Reddit hell broke loose. Electronic Arts apologized, turned off the microtransactions and promised to make things right before the game was formally released on Nov. 17.

11 of 20 Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Bixby's rough debut

In March, Samsung introduced Bixby as the next great digital assistant. Six months later, it gave Galaxy users what they really wanted, apparently: a way to disable the "awkward[ly]" placed Bixby button that was of "limited usefulness."

12 of 20 Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Snapchat's slide

When Snapchat went public in March, expectations were as big as the numbers: a $17-a-share stock price for a company valued at $20 billion to $25 billion.

But the social-media network soon "sputter[ed]" as growth stalled, its Spectacles didn't sell, and its stock price took a hit. On the upside, analysts in December began to see Snap Inc. as a worthwhile bargain.

13 of 20 Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Windows 10

Forced Windows 10 upgrades

If you made a face like The Mindy Project's Ike Barinholtz when an unprompted Windows 10 upgrade overwhelmed your hard drive and/or damaged your data, then you weren't alone. 2017 saw a class-action lawsuit filed against Microsoft on related claims.

14 of 20 Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Blue Apron's IPO blues

Though Blue Apron isn't a tech company, its stock got "shellacked," as we put it in August, "on the idea that Amazon will copy the [meal-kit delivery] model and do it better." Originally offered at $10 a share, Blue Apron's stock fell to about $3 at one point in December, though Barclays, one of the bulls on Snap Inc., proffered that a "stabilization point" might have been reached.

15 of 20 Sony Pictures Animation

'The Emoji Movie' gets dumped on

Critics didn't hate The Emoji Movie. They really, really hated it. According to Metacritic data, it's the most critically loathed film of the year. Poop and Poop Jr., however, got the last laugh. The $50 million CGI comedy grossed about $217 million worldwide.

16 of 20 Facebook via CNET

Facebook Stories' slow start

The "Snapchat-like feature" began to roll out in March. By October, Facebook was bringing the feature to Pages in a bid to increase use.

17 of 20 Netflix

'Iron Fist' flails with critics

GQ called this "boring" streaming show "Netflix's First Big Superhero Flop." The Marvel series also took a hit, the New York Times reported, for casting a white man, Game of Thrones' Finn Jones, "as a master of distinctly Asian traditions of fighting." Like The Emoji Movie, Iron Fist won the war: It's been renewed for a second season.

18 of 20 Juicero via CNET

Juicero runs dry

The big-money-backed start-up sensation found that the real world was cool to its $700 connected juicers (which were later marked all the way down to $400). In September, a plan to pivot to a "second-gen" machine was scrapped, and the line closed altogether.

19 of 20 Sergei Savostyanov/TASS/Getty Images via CNET

Kaspersky aspersions

In September, as part of the ongoing Washington probe into Russian meddling, the Moscow-based cybersecurity company's software was ordered removed from federal computers. Eugene Kaspersky, the namesake co-founder of Kaspersky Lab, has denied any connection to the Kremlin.

20 of 20 Leon Neal/Getty Images

Amazon Prime Day's disappointments

For Amazon, the now-annual July discount event was a success, with sales up 60 percent over 2016's Prime Day. But outside of Amazon's own products, USA Today said, there were "[f]ew steals among the 100,000 deals."

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