Tech Bullies Misbehaving

Tech giants have thrown their weight around to get what they want for years. Here's a look at some of the big tech companies that have been caught indulging in boorish behavior.
By Tom Kaneshige
Slideshow Aug 16th 2012
  • Tech giants have thrown their weight around to get what they want for years. In grade-school parlance, they're bullies. Some companies show downright contempt; others find redemption (or at least a little humility). Here are well-known tech companies indulging in boorish behavior.

  • Last week, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission fined Google $22.5 million for tracking users of Apple's Safari browser via an advertising cookie. Google had told users they could opt out of tracking but tracked them anyway. That goes beyond sneaky and into devious.

  • Remember when Netscape Navigator rose up to challenge Microsoft Internet Explorer in the great browser war? The conflict drew in the Department of Justice and put Bill Gates on the stand. Oh, Netscape isn't around anymore. The word "ruthless" comes to mind.

  • We have made Facebook a big part of our daily lives. Then Facebook turned into a sneaky privacy pirate, pushing complex privacy settings to its limits. Give up more of your privacy or abandon us at your social peril, Facebook seems to be saying. That ain't right.

  • Yahoo has long seen profits in China, which has led to Yahoo making outrageous transgressions. The most serious was the outing of Chinese dissidents via Yahoo mail accounts five years ago, resulting in a reporter sentenced to 10 years in prison.

  • Last year, the New Yorker's Ken Auletta reported that AOL "still gets 80 percent of its profits from subscribers, many of whom are older people who have cable or DSL service but don't realize that they need not pay an additional twenty-five dollars a month to get online and check their e-mail.

  • From tamper-resistant Pentalobular screws to proprietary dock connectors to a walled-garden App Store, Apple makes it difficult for customers to escape its ecosystem. Quite the irony from Apple's 1984 image as a rebel fighting against control.

  • Telecommunications companies are notorious for putting phone-calling customers on hold or transferring them around. Not many companies treat their customers like second-class citizens, but these telcos share in an industry-wide culture of customer apathy.

  • Did Samsung rip off Apple's iPhone-iPad design? A Samsung executive's memo revealed that the iPhone had caused a "crisis of design" and that the Samsung and Apple smartphones were "a difference between Heaven and Earth."

  • The high cost and complexity of integration threatened to derail the enterprise software movement, and so companies like Infosys came to the rescue bearing skilled labor (and big invoices, too). But Infosys, one of India's biggest IT firms, has apparently run aground of labor laws.

  • Giant tech companies don't start out that way. Here's how most tech companies get their start in Silicon Valley: an entrepreneurial engineer with a great idea and dreams of changing the world scores some venture capital and pursues the American Dream.

Source: CIO (US)


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