You could call it the year of humility; 2011 saw its share of epic shakeups in the technology world, but it also saw an unprecedented number of them shake right back and go away almost as soon as they happened. From Verizon to HP to Netflix, the biggest names in tech made big decisions that were ultimately — and often almost immediately — reversed.
You can thank social media for playing a large part in the speedy course changes. With Twitter and Facebook leading the charge, negative reaction to a public decision now skips the murmur phase and goes straight to ear-splitting viral roar. Comments on web pages, blog posts and bad press all combine to create a torrent of indignation that few companies can endure.
Occasionally social media itself was the offender, with services at times clumsily rolling out new features that its users rebelled against. Various networks almost cannibalized themselves in this way, as they struggled to find their footing as viable businesses.
Big, public reversals by corporations are nothing new of course. Probably the most notorious one in modern history was the introduction of new Coke in 1985, which the company stubbornly stuck with at first, then soon relented. New Coke was actually around in one form or another until 2002, when it was permanently discontinued.
Reversals aren’t necessarily more common now, but they sure happen a lot faster. Tech companies are probably the most vulnerable because of the connected nature of their customers. With the touch of a button, consumers can “Like” anything. But that same ease can turn anger into full-fledged movements in minutes, and no company is immune.
Here are Mashable‘s picks for the most notorious reversals by tech companies in 2011. Let us know in the comments of any we missed.
Verizon Kills the $2 Fee
Just after Christmas, Verizon announced it would start charging customers $2 for processing payments online. Although there was some precedent for the fee (Sprint has one), it was the straw that broke the camel’s back as far as its customers were concerned. It was hard to find a reaction that couldn’t be described as anything less than outrage, and thousands threatened to leave the provider — contract or no contract — if it didn’t reverse course. Which it did, not much more than 24 hours later.