10 Tech Turkeys For 20124:26 PM EST Mon. Nov. 19, 2012
Every year, companies, people and product lines emerge that leave a lasting impression -- for all the wrong reasons. Just in time for Thanksgiving, CRN looks at 10 IT industry stories that left people shaking their heads and muttering "what a turkey" under their breath.
Steven Sinofsky, the Microsoft executive who took over leadership of Windows in the wake of the Vista fiasco, abruptly quit earlier this month, less than three weeks after the launch of Windows 8. The 23-year Microsoft veteran was reportedly a polarizing figure within Microsoft who came out on the short end of a power struggle with CEO Steve Ballmer, but the timing was certainly an unwelcome distraction for Microsoft as it tries to drum up interest in Windows 8.
Sinofsky and Ballmer each spouted platitudes about how the departure was amicable and each side wishes the other the best. But given the celebratory reaction to Sinofsky's departure in the Microsoft channel -- which has suffered under his total lockdown on communications around Windows 8 -- it's safe to say partners aren't shedding any tears now that he's gone.
The Guns 'N Roses album 'Chinese Democracy' took 15 years from concept to completion, and with each delay, the band insisted to impatient fans that the finished product would be well worth the wait. Research In Motion's next operating system, BlackBerry 10, is not going to take that long, but its slow march to market isn't helping the struggling mobile vendor get back on track.
BlackBerry 10 was originally expected to arrive by the end of the year, but RIM in June pushed the launch window until the first quarter of 2013. For most of the year, RIM has seen declining handset sales and a steady stream of customers defecting to Android and iOS.
But according to RIM CEO Thorsten Heins, there are brighter days ahead. "We are just a few short months away. BlackBerry 10 is on track," Heins said in September at RIM's BlackBerry Jam Americas event. "Our sales forces are getting ready. Beta devices are in testing. Carrier entries will start next month."
Native Google Maps on the iPhone worked fine for years, helping millions upon millions of users navigate to their destinations. But that all changed when Apple decided to develop its own homegrown native maps app, which debuted in September with the launch of iOS 6. Suddenly, iPhone users found themselves dealing with a slow, glitch-ridden app that sometimes guided them to places they had no intention of visiting.
Apple CEO Tim Cook apologized for the iOS maps fiasco in late September, but iOS software chief Scott Forstall reportedly refused to do the same, and for that reason, he's no longer employed by the company.
Hewlett-Packard's $10.3 billion acquisition may yet deliver a decent return on investment, but HP channel partners are still waiting for their chance to sell Autonomy products. Ditto for Vertica, the in-memory database startup HP bought in March of last year.
Strange thing is, HP says its big data portfolio is doing quite well.
"[Big data analytics] is a new area that we are building, and it's actually doubling, if not tripling, on an ongoing basis, so it's a great opportunity for us," HP Software chief George Kadifa told Wall Street analysts in October. Kadifa even believes Vertica can become a $1 billion business.
For HP, which despite its struggles still has a lot of loyal partners, getting the channel involved in big data opportunities has to be a priority for the coming year.
Nokia, already on the ropes from a financial standpoint, invited public ridicule in September when it admitted faking a demo video intended to highlight the anti-blur capabilities of the new PureView camera in its new Lumia 920 smartphone. Nokia instead used a large-scale video camera to record the demo.
"Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but we should have posted a disclaimer stating this was a representation of OIS only," Heidi Lemmetyinen, editor-in-chief of Nokia's official blog, said in the mea culpa. "This was not shot with a Lumia 920. At least, not yet. We apologize for the confusion we created."
Despite shares that have seen a 60 percent decline this year, AMD recently denied it is exploring a potential sale of the company. "AMD is not actively pursuing a sale of the company or significant assets at this time," Drew Prairie, an AMD spokesperson, told CRN last week.
AMD has been hit hard by slowing market demand for PC chips and has been slow to shift its strategic focus to the mobile space. The company has also seen a steady stream of executives head for the exits, including CFO Thomas Siefert, who ran the company on an interim basis for several months last year.
Enrique Salem was ousted as Symantec CEO in July and replaced by Steve Bennett, chairman of the vendor's board. The move, accompanied by a 10 percent decline in first quarter revenue, was the first step in what partners hope will be a concerted effort to refocus the company's sprawling portfolio around solutions instead of products.
"They're still such a siloed product company," a channel executive at a top Symantec partner told CRN earlier this month. "Talking with the division sales reps is all about, do you want to sell what I have, and if not, go talk to this guy in that unit over there because you can't help me. To date there really hasn't been a packaged solutions approach, and that's a problem for partners who really see the potential of selling across the Symantec product set."
Facebook, in the year's most breathlessly scrutinized IPO, raised $104 billion and cemented its status as one of the IT industry's greatest success stories.
And then reality came crashing in with a dull thud, and Facebook shares headed south from their initial $38 price, at one point hitting a low of $17.55. With more than a billion users, mobile advertising was supposed to be a slam dunk on the Facebook platform, but that nut has proven more difficult to crack than initially anticipated.
Already struggling financially and closing stores, Best Buy in May found itself dealing with an internal scandal that led to the resignations of CEO Brian Dunn and Chairman Richard Schulze.
Best Buy's board conducted an independent investigation into Dunn's personal conduct and found that he'd violated company policy by engaging in a relationship with a female employee that "negatively impacted the work environment." Schulze, meanwhile, did not bring the matter to the attention of the board's Audit Committee despite knowing about the relationship for months.
John McAfee, the founder of security vendor McAfee who has been living in Belize since 2008, has been on the run since his 52-year-old neighbor, U.S. national Gregory Viant Faull, was discovered earlier this month in San Pedro, a town located on the Belize island of Ambergris Caye.
Authorities in Belize have no other suspects in the case, but McAfee says he had nothing to do with the crime. He says he is hiding out because he's afraid of what Belizean authorities might do to him in custody. When authorities first arrived at his home to investigate the crime, McAfee told Wired he buried himself in the sand to avoid detection. "It was extraordinarily uncomfortable," he told Wired. "But they will kill me if they find me."