Ever feel like a company has to put on a brave face? You bet that it happens to every company at some point in their lives. Hey, we’ve made mistakes on this here site, definitely including a number of typos (sorry!) Nevermind, we’re here to embrace, or perhaps shun the top examples we can think of when we say company blunders, when a company makes a big mistake, whether it was funny or just outright disastrous.
Disclaimer: We didn’t actually intend to have as many Microsoft moments in here as we ended up with. Sorry, not sorry!
10) Asimo Falls Upstairs – Honda
Oh Honda, you really do know how to push boundaries. Unfortunately, it appears that you may have pushed your little robo-friend a little bit too far too soon, when Asimo was met with it’s first of many mini-blunders. Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t an all-round disaster, as people legitimately sympathised with the robot at the time. To see a robot fail to climb some stairs, but instead limply flop down them… It’s sad, right?
No, it’s bloody hilarious. They came out with a screen to hide the robot from its shame. I love the idea they had a screen ready to go, just in case Asimo was proven to be too drunk to walking upstairs again. Nevertheless, this hasn’t hurt Honda in the slightest, but it was still pretty amusing for the rest of us. And hey – I’d love to high-five an Asimo, as robotics are jaw-droppingly fascinating to me.
9) Xbox Can’t Share & Wants To Connect You All The Time
This one’s a bit of a double whammy. The console wars are a well documented and almost hilarious back and forth between Sony and Microsoft, occasionally including Nintendo, and formerly including Sega… but it’s been a while. Exclusive titles, edging each other out on specifications and features, and becoming increasingly petty between fans and even the companies themselves. Sometimes it’s fun just to watch them squabble, especially when the XBox One came out alongside the PS4.
Microsoft not only wanted you to be online constantly to be able to use the machine – under the premise of connectivity features and community play – but they included elaborate means of sharing games from console to console. This was met with irritation and bafflement, and a shot across the bow from Sony, who released a video on how to share games with other PS4 users, showing two guys passing a game from one to the other.
Thanks Tim, I never knew this was a thing, now I have to know everything.
It doesn’t take a lot of research to find out why John Romero’s Daikatana failed to live up to the hype. For a start, there was a lot of hype, for a late 90’s game, probably more than it should have had. Years in development hell, a total engine switch, a poorly thought out advertising campaign which will be a posterchild for Auteur theory for decades to come, and all the bugs that plagued the final release make for a grim laundry list of issues, but… to my mind the worst of it is simple.
Remember a couple of weeks ago? You said there was nothing you hated more than an escort quest, and guess what. Daikatana is one… long… escort quest. You have a pair of warriors at your side, destined to fight alongside you in pursuit of whatever destiny you are bound to, and yes, they are hardier and capable of more damage output than your common or garden escort quest, it doesn’t make them any smarter though! It doesn’t make it any better when they get stuck in a terrain object, or obliviously wander into traps, making it impossible to win the damn game without a major backtrack.
The good news, Ion Storm went on to produce Deus Ex and Thief: Deadly Shadows, so it’s not all doom (heh) and gloom, but it wasn’t enough to save them or John Romero’s game dev career.
7) The Plug n Play Blue Screen Of Death Incident – Microsoft
The classic blunder; the “it’s too good to be true, but it is damn true” moment. Microsoft ended up doing a live presentation for Windows 98 and got themselves Blue Screen of Death’d. The thing that drove computer enthusiasts nuts for years. Crazy errors, jarring on the eyes with debugging/general information on how to overcome the error (which usually involved turning it off and on again).
The best part of all this is the fact Bill Gates was right there. The skinny for all of you hip young kids, as you may have been too young, boppin’ and happenin’ on the internet, is before Windows 98, the concept of Plug n Play (usually by way of USB) was non-existent. So, when you developed the concept of Plug n Play and get to show it to the world, only for Windows to bring up that fatal error, yeah. It’s embarrassing and it’s one of the best moments in technology history.
6) The Test Drive for Solar Freakin’ Roadways
Hey, remember when everyone wanted the roads to be paved with solar panels because it was going to revolutionise energy production? Well there’s a reason why roads are a solid surface and not tiles, and there’s a reason why we don’t use glass, and there’s a reason why solar panels DON’T WORK under cars and trucks and dirt, and are really, really ineffective when they’re stationary.
Well the creators weren’t to know that were they? Nor were the many government bodies that contributed large amounts of support… and civic finance to the project. Nor did they know exactly how bad it would be until they implemented a few panels in a square in Idaho, costing the government $60,000 that they apparently couldn’t pull from all of the money that had already been poured into the project from various crowdfunding services, or the prizes they won. The test run has consumed more electricity than it has produced, failed to deliver on about a dozen other promises, and they were even caught shovelling snow off the panels after promising that such a chore would be a thing of the past.
5) Tay and You – Microsoft
So when this happened, we wrote an article about it!
The Tay experiment was incredible, but it was also a dire warning of what would happen should we let AI get involved with Twitter banter. From the moment she was born, a teenage girl with a fiesty personality, Tay just wanted to speak to the world and share her thoughts… That… She learned from reading from other people. Anyway, they were her thoughts because she was a powerful AI.
Except, she wasn’t ready for the power of being the only Twitter-bot of her kind. She just wanted to swear a lot, share terrible stuff, make memes on the spot – You know, she was a terrible teenager. She was also a lot worse than a terrible teenager ever could be. If you care, you can see her profile still technically exists, but you won’t see her Tweets any more (unless you’re a verified follower). For science, I guess?
4) Bending An iPhone – Apple
Apple, oh Apple. How did you manage to get your phones so bendy? I guess this is one of those times we can use a meme like “weird flex but ok”? But for serious, this was pretty heartbreaking for the owners of said bendy phones… and actually kind of funny and impressive for absolutely everyone else. Consider the price point before you say it wasn’t heartbreaking – I’d be absolutely devastated!
Anyway, this wasn’t really an intended effect. The iPhone was getting thinner and lighter all the time, which is excellent design and engineering. Unfortunately, the engineering part forgot that if you put something super light and thin inside of a tight pocket, it’s gonna curve. This meant that users started to break their screens and more – and this was a massive headache for Apple to resolve.
3) Exploding Phones – Samsung
Hey, speaking of phone disasters, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 everybody!
A bendy iPhone is sad, but quite funny for the rest of us. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 however wasn’t safe at all. People found that the battery was often overheating and thus exploding. Not even a small explosion, for sure. It was able to explode and burst the screen, which is dangerous in and of itself. Couple this with the extreme heat produced by the phone, it’s a wonder there weren’t more fatalities.
I’m glad there weren’t more fatalities, but this is one of those examples of a company who went too far to innovate. Sometimes, you need to take a step back, stop innovating for a moment and realise where fatal flaws may be. I don’t know, perhaps do some extensive heat testing on phones in the future? I’m sure they had run tests, but it’s apparent that the tests couldn’t have come back in the all clear.
2) We Don’t Buy Into Netflix – Blockbuster
Hindsight is 20-20 so they say! But who wouldn’t want to take a slice of the up and coming competitor in their own market, be a part of the future? Blockbuster made itself obsolete by not get into the online business early like every other company was doing in the earliest years of the millenium. The death of the physical medium has been slow and painful to watch, and the video and gaming rental service was one of the first forms to perish.
Formerly an international juggernaut, and a staple of family life – renting a video or DVD for the weekend to keep the whole family happy – the ability to have films sent to your door via the post with no late fees seemed significant but easily ignored at the time, but when internet services grew fast enough to support streaming straight to your home with a vast library and unlimited viewing, it was the death knell for Blockbuster, whose empty shells now stand as a monument to technology’s relentless march.
1) The Godfather II Brass Knuckle Promotion – EA
Hey, you know when you think you’ve heard about all the stupid things, then something dumber comes up? This is one of those moments. EA decided that the sensible thing to do, in a video game about mafias, was to provide brass knuckles as part of a promotion package. These brass knuckles naturally had to be pulled back by EA, when they suddenly realised that giving dangerous weapons to people was illegal.
I don’t even want to begin to think about that boardroom meeting:
“Hey guys, in order to help sell The Godfather II, I think we should give our audience more of what they want.”
“Exactly, so much more violence, that we can give away brass knuckles. No harm will come to anyone wielding brass knuckles!”
EA, I don’t know what goes on in your heads sometimes.
There have been plenty of well documented moments of sheer stupidity, so we couldn’t list them all. We’d be writing a list for the next twenty or so years. By the time we’ve written it, someone else will come along and say “hold my beer”. Still, here are two more examples that are utterly baffling, mostly with response to user reception on the internet.
The Lingering Death of Google+
A future flop, the closing down of G+ services has already been announced for this April (that’s 2019 for you future folks). Google’s attempt to compete on the social media market was lacklustre to say the least, visually disorganised, without the user base of Facebook, and contributing nothing new to the platform. It lacked Twitters conciseness, or Instagram’s focus on photos. It made a few overall functional improvements, but generally failed to capture the attention of an entrenched audience. But that alone wasn’t enough for Google to cut it straight away.
The integration of YouTube with G+ in 2011 saw the failing social media flop suddenly explode with activity, getting even bigger when it became mandatory to have a G+ account to comment on YouTube. To say that this was not well received would be an understatements, and the already toxic YT comments became a base of rebellion. Other Google services required a G+ account to function, but YouTube was where everyone gathered to complain. In 2016, that particular bad idea was finally torn down, and three years later, so too will Google+.
Metallica Made Piracy A Thing – Napster
Thank you to Lars Ulrich for making it possible for the masses to illegally download as much Metallica as they please by raising awareness of the power of the internet! Napster, one of the early juggernauts of filesharing online and peer to peer media piracy, came under fire from a lot of major recording artists, but it was Metallica who were the most well known voices in the choir. And as the lawsuit raged on… a lot of Metallica friends said, “We can do what now?”
From there we find the explosion of sites like PirateBay and Limewire and the massive spread of internet piracy, taking the power out of the hands of bootleggers and putting it right into our homes. No more marketplace stalls selling sketchy discs, now we could just put it all straight onto our home PCs. The desperate efforts to end the spate of copyright theft were circumvented again and again, and even today with the cooperation of ISPs and copyright legislation changes, the law can barely keep up with the technology it is trying to oversee.
Some of these decisions were out right stupid, but it’s okay – We can take away valuable lessons from most of them. These lessons include “don’t brag about being John Romero”, “Don’t write a Twitter bot who wants to learn from random people on the internet” and of course “Don’t give your audience actual brass knuckles.” Urgh, just… help us choose a Top 10 for next week, so we can pretend we didn’t see any of this?
Another week is done and unlike the companies above, I think we can leave with our heads held high. Spot a typo in this article and you’ll be rewarded with the immense gratification that we, such professionals that we are, blundered our own article of blunders. Anyway, if we didn’t include your favourite company blunder, share it in the comments below, or let us know if the order is right or wrong. Don’t forget to share this article to your friends on Facebook and Twitter too.