U.S. companies don't always do so well when it comes to knowing their geography. When Delta Airlines bought Pam Am's famous international route network in the 1990s, they had to hand out atlases so the employees and company executives would know where the airline was flying. Now comes a story in the Guardian about the costly blunders Microsoft has made through geographic ignorance. Their gaffs cover not only geography but also political and cultural sensitivity issues. While some of the errors probably couldn't be avoided, what is surprising is that others could have and should have been caught, but Microsoft took a lackadaisical approach. Working worlds away in Redmond, the issues probably seemed trifling compared with the importance of getting the software out the door on time. Microsoft acknowledges that those errors cost real money and more importantly tarnished the company's reputation. Given the arrogant way they acted in the past about such things, it's almost nice to see them publicly admitting to messing up, and agreeing that they need to be more culturally sensitive (even if, yes, it should help them avoid multi-million dollar blunders involving having their own software banned or their own employees tossed in jail).
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