Tech blunders, catastrophes and epic fails of 2012: review

Tech blunders, catastrophes and epic fails of 2012: review

Summary: Thanksgiving is over, and we're heading into December. It's time for a look back at all the blunders, catastrophes, epic fails and major screw-ups of 2012.

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  • HP accuses Autonomy of fiddling finances 

    Another mess for computer maker HP, which is struggling in the face of rival PC makers, such as Lenovo and Apple, as the firm had to swallow a $5 billion charge in its latest quarterly earnings. What happened? HP claims Autonomy "inflated" the value of the company before HP bought it out, a claim the Autonomy management team flat-out denied.

    HP's Meg Whitman said during a conference call that Autonomy was "smaller and less profitable than we had thought," suggesting the U.K.-based firm had fiddled its numbers and misstated its revenues before HP bought the company for $1.1 billion.

    U.K. and U.S. authorities are now investigating the claims, but this clunker isn't going to be resolved until next year at the very earliest.

  • Facebook IPO

    The world's largest social network, with more than 1 billion active monthly users, filed its initial public offering in May for $38 a share, valuing the firm at more than $100 billion. This was the largest valuation of any newly listed public company to date. But things turned badly wrong as soon as chief executive Mark Zuckerberg hit the magic "let's go public" button at the firm's headquarters in Palo Alto.

    The Nasdaq reported technical difficulties at market opening on the day Facebook went public and delayed trading by half an hour. While trading shot up to $48 a share, the closing price was only $0.23 above the IPO price. Many considered this a massive disappointment. Since then, Facebook's shares have dropped significantly to a low of $17 a share only three months after it first went public.

    More than 40 lawsuits have been filed in the wake of the IPO, and the IPO is also under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The whole public offering debacle was a mess from start to finish, and frankly overhyped by the entire industry. 

  • Apple Maps was an abysmal failure 

    Apple sparked a controversy when it decided to distance itself from Google in the wake of Steve Jobs' "thermonuclear war" against Android by dropping Google Maps from its iOS mobile operating system. The maker of shiny rectangles instead developed its own in-house mapping service, which after launch it was widely dubbed a massive failure.

    It just didn't work. Locations were in the wrong place, companies were missing, and imaging errors turned some famous landmarks into some kind of matrix-defying hashup. Ultimately, Apple chief executive Tim Cook apologized for the screw-up and iOS chief Scott Forstall 'left' the company -- though he's still lingering around the Apple campus until next year.

Topics: Security, Apple, PCs, Tablets, Smartphones, Privacy, Outage, Microsoft, Google, Browser, Big Data, Windows

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  • Where is...

    The iphone 5? Even though mass sheep bought the product, from a technical standpoint I would say its a pretty big flop. Terrible maps, super easy to scratch, nothing new to the table (same boring OS), etc.
    SteveWojo
    • Well think of it this way.

      Would you SteveWojo prefer to have all the profits from the iPhone 5 or all the profits from any other single model of phone from the vendor of your choice? Like it or not Apple continues to sell their phones in record numbers to "the sheep" and Apple continues to make money on their "tech blunder" at a rate envied by nearly all phone manufactures. HTC would love to have a "tech blunder" equal to the iPhone 5 in their lineup. And yes by equal I do mean "CASH COW".
      YaBaby
    • Perhaps you need a dictionary? You can find the word "flop" under the "F"s

      .DeusExMachina.
    • You will never own a business

      Guess you don't understand what a flop really means
      new gawker
    • Ding ding ding, we have a winner

      of the moron of the thread award. Grow up SteveWojo.
      non-biased
    • SteveWojo...Metro apps should be # 1 followed by #2 Surface RT and

      Metros flashing tiles is #3 .......everything else really falls short by comfarisson
      Over and Out
    • Yet to be determined

      Technologically nothing new. Business Flop still unknown. iphone 5 sales where suppose to hit 50 mil, if Apple doesn't hit their number then it will be a business flop (irregardless of how record breaking 45 mil or so is). With this edition of the iphone Apple has serious competition and if they drive away customers with mediocre product it would be a disaster (Which I don't see happening). To early to tell for sure, but it did show serious gaps in Apple armor.
      alex_darkness
  • The Playbook is _not_ an "abysmal failure"

    RIM sold 1.74 million Playbooks - I call that a success, not a flop. ZDNet and other tech rags keep dumping on RIM, yet most will concede the Playbook hardware is pretty good. If Blackberry 10 succeeds Playbook sales will increase. Yes they will probably never catch the iPad, but so what? I'll bet Mr. Whittaker never tried to engineer and sell a tech product.
    cjc5447
    • It's a non-starter

      and I doubt BB10 will change any of that. It seems that IOS and Android will be the 2 dominant--and maybe only--players in the mobile and tablet space.

      MS and RIM have suffered due to poor leadership/management and sluggish roll out of 1/2 baked products. Maybe their latest offerings will get some traction but they've got a long, uphill battle ahead of them.
      otaddy
    • Needs Android

      I own an iPod Touch running iOS 6, a plain Android 7" format tablet using 3.1, and a PlayBook and the PlayBook is by far the best in hardware, OS (QNX), and interface. However, it needs to run Android apps without the need of a conversion. So does the BB10.
      Theo.X
      • I agree

        The problem isn't in the hardware and software. The problem is in the management and marketing. My favorite mobile OS so far is WebOS. It works great on the Touchpad. The problem is that it isn't really viable as my everyday OS because there are so few apps for it and it doesn't appear as if there ever really will be many. Playbook has a similar problem. It has an awesome multitasking OS. Too bad nobody will ever know about it.
        redhaven
        • No, the problem is that they were too late to the party

          ... and nobody wanted to buy them.
          .DeusExMachina.
    • While most companies would be happy selling 1.74 million units

      of whatever product they have in comparison it is a flop. Doesn't mean it isn't great hardware, history is littered with great products that were a flop. If Rim hasn't even come close to recouping their investment at this point (don't know) it would be even more of a flop.
      non-biased
  • Really?

    1.74 million of one model from one company, compared with 7.5 million Androids is actually pretty respectable. From where I sit, it looks like the Playbook might be the iPad's biggest competitor unless you can break the numbers down better and show differently.
    dimonic
    • Article was confusing

      But reading correctly it says 1.74 million Playbook in a year. 7.5 million Android was just in a quarter (so if it is constant over the year it means 30 million over a year).
      lepoete73
    • Side by side

      One of the guys I work with won an iPad (not the one with the retina display though). But he doesn't like it because it's too big. He's more of a 7" tablet kind of person. One of the other people I work with has a PlayBook with the latest firmware. Also in the group was a Nexus 7 and a Kindle Fire. So we sat them down and ran them side by side. (And for laughs, we put an original Kindle into the mix.)

      Mind you, we're all a bunch of geeks so what we like and what the public like, may be a little different.

      The iPad comes up fastest while the PlayBook took the longest. Performance wise, the Kindle is the slow poke while the others are fairly equal. But we were really looking to see which one was the best from a user experience point of view, the kind of thing we would buy our non-geek spouses.

      Also, we're not looking for 3G or 4G connectivity in these products, just WiFi. Our spouses all like to surf the web, watch YouTube, and some like to play online Flash games. Reading books is also a favorite pastime of our spouses. So eReader apps were also important.

      All the units tested are quite usable, and easy to learn. But EVERYONE in our group felt that the PlayBook UI was the most intuitive of them all. The smart bezel idea was a BIG winner. No buttons (except power and volume control) on the PlayBook. Swipe down from the edge for one menu. Swipe up for a different menu. Or swipe from the sides for other menus. It's a small thing but it makes the UI that much cleaner, and we thought, more intuitive. It's not that it does more, or does it better, so much as it does it cleaner. It's a really well designed piece of software.

      The big issue with the iPad was Flash. Otherwise, surfing was good, and book reading was good. Video playback was acceptable from my point of view. (I use to work in the television industry and you quickly train yourself to see a single pixel error on a 13" monitor that is 50ft away.)

      Browsing on the Fire was not as smooth as Silk, but book reading was superb. Video playback was barely adequate from my point of view.

      The Nexus 7 was merely good at everything. It's a very solid performer and we all liked it. Surfing was good. Reading was good. And video playback was acceptable.

      The plain Kindle was of course, the BEST device if you just wanted an eReader. It was the only one which could be read in bright sunlight. However, browsing and video playback was basically impossible.

      The PlayBook was merely a good reader, on a par with the others. The Kindle for Android software worked very well on it and the screen resolution was more than adequate for the task. I didn't even need my reading glasses. When it came to browsing, it was on a par with the Nexus 7 and the iPad. In terms of video playback, it was actually better than merely acceptable earning a rating of "good". I'll be clear. Given our test video, there were decompression artifacts on all the tablets. None of them were perfect. But the PlayBook actually performed better than the others by having both less and less annoying artifacts.

      In terms of feel. The Nexus7 feels a little cheap. The iPad feels a little too big. (The mini wasn't out yet.) The Fire feels good. The PlayBook feels very solid, like a high quality product. The same applies (of course) to the iPad.

      So over all, all of us liked the PlayBook best of all, with the Nexus7 coming in a close second. The lack of flash support for the iPad was considered a fatal flaw but otherwise, it earned third place. The Kindle Fire's sluggishness often tested our tremendous lack of patience. You'd think we'd all settle for a 1/4 second delay but we're all too impatient for that.

      A note from the PlayBook owner. It is ONLY with the firmware upgrade that the PlayBook has been "really FUN". He reported that it was sluggish and sometimes a little clunky with the older firmware. It worked, but "it lacked polish". (Like it was a product rushed out the door too soon.) Of everyone I know who owns a PlayBook, they all say the same thing "I just LOVE mine."

      So for a "failure", the PlayBook is a remarkably good product that has not yet found a sufficient audience. If RIM goes under, Google would be smart to snatch it up.

      So the PlayBook is not a technical blunder so much as the kind of management and marketing blunder that was on a par with BetaMAX and VHS. RIM really blew it there. But given what I've seen recently, I think they will make a comeback and become the solid third in the tablet and phone wars, which will still be a tenuous position at best. Disruption is always around the corner.
      mheartwood
      • You lost all credibility the moment

        You regurgitated the flash talking point. Flash is also dead on Android and play book. Because Adobe has discontinued support and development for it. This means you are basically a paid shill pulling stuff out of your $$$
        baggins_z
        • fApple much?

          Seems everyone's so quick to call anyone who disagrees with their preferred product a "shill." Who is paying that reviewer? He endorsed Playbook and Android systems, while also giving a fair shake to competitors like Amazon's Kindle and the iPad. He never said any of these products were bad in themselves. It seems like you're just a fApple Fanatic, in that case. By the way, my Nexus 7 runs Flash just fine using Firefox and the Flash APK's. And I can stream videos from Chrome browser by launching MXPlayer. In terms of general media consumption, I would go with the $200 Nexus 7 over an $800 iPuke any day of the year.
          jdyl
          • Do you actually think you are any better

            When you use immature slang like fApple and iPuke you just show yourself to be an immature little hater, with is no better or worse than a fanboy no matter what product.

            BTW, do you think that everyone is an idiot? You use the base Nexus 7 price and a top of the line iPad price as if they are even remotely comparable. Of course nobody but you cares which you would go with so I guess it's irrelevant anyway.
            non-biased
  • Samsung vs Apple

    This was not a flop by Samsung - this was a huge embaraassment to the American legal system. Read about the Jury foreman and his conflict of interest before assuming this is in anyway a real defeat fort Samsung.
    dimonic