This Dumb Year: The 57 Lamest Tech Moments of 2010

For high-profile flops, strange decisions, pointless lawsuits, and general weirdness, it's been a very good year.

By  |  Tuesday, December 21, 2010 at 1:33 am

18. Sue you, sue me.

Nokia sues Apple over mobile patents.

19. Oh say can you sue?

HTC sues Apple over mobile patents.

20. We’re not nosy. Just incompetent.

After having published a somewhat snippy blog post denying charges that its StreetView cars were picking up sensitive information from Wi-Fi networks they passed, Google discovers that it has indeed been accidentally collecting and storing data from unprotected networks for three years. Strangely enough, the fact it was all unintentional doesn’t pacify everyone.

21. Oh, like grownups who play computer games might have anything to hide.

World of Warcraft and Starcraft maker Blizzard Entertainment announces that members of its forums will henceforth be required to use their real names, in hopes of imposing a higher standard of civility on the conversations there. The company soon backpedals after an angry mob of members begins ferreting out and publishing personal info about a forum moderator who started using his real name–including the fact that he still lives with his mom.

22. This would never happen during a Steve Jobs keynote!

Steve Jobs, master of the flawless product demo, suffers a rare but crippling technical meltdown when he shows the iPhone 4 to an audience of thousands of developers and members of the press. Jobs says that there are 527 MiFi-type mobile routers present and that they’ve brought Apple’s Wi-Fi network to its knees. He pleads with attendees to turn their connections off. Some do; some don’t.

23. Hey, a few weeks is no biggie, right?

When Apple starts taking preorders for the iPhone 4 on June 15th, the black one is available but the white version which Steve Jobs had mentioned at his WWDC keynote is unexpectedly missing in action. Citing unspecified manufacturing challenges, Apple eventually says the white model of the handset has been delayed until the second half of July.

24. We promise it’ll be out before the white iPhone.

21. Plastic Logic’s revised release date of June 24th for its Que e-reader comes and goes. It says it needs “a bit more time” to finish it up.

25. We never talk about unreleased products. Except when we do.

After months of hype for HP’s Windows 7 slate, HP agrees to buy Palm and its WebOS mobile operating system. All of a sudden, the company starts refusing to discuss the Windows slate, or even confirm that it still plans to release it. (It eventually does, but in a business-centric version that’s strikingly different from the consumery gizmo that had debuted at CES.)

26. Highly social twentysomethings apparently didn’t like it any more than jaded tech pundits.

Two months after shipping its Kin phones, Microsoft cancels the line, making it one of the fastest flops in tech history. (It does say it plans to merge unspecified “valuable ideas and technologies” into Windows Phone 7.) Estimates of the total number of Kins sold range from a few hundred to a few thousand.

27. That design issue you noticed is actually a software bug you didn’t notice.

After some iPhone 4 buyers report that touching the phone’s lower left-hand corner leads to dropped calls and other reception issues, Apple says that it’s “stunned” by the discovery of a long-standing bug which leads all iPhones to report overly optimistic signal strength. This response doesn’t do much to mollify unhappy campers.

28. Whiting for Godot.

Apple delays release of the white iPhone again, until an unspecified date later in 2010.

29. Refudiate this!

Former Alaska governor, 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate, best-selling author, and future reality TV star Sarah Palin tweets a request for “Peaceful Muslims” to “refudiate” the “Ground Zero Mosque.”

30. On further thought…

Net neutrality champion Google partners with communications behemoth Verizon to give the FCC helpful net neutrality advice –basically, “keep it for wired broadband but scrap it for wireless”–that prompts industry watchers to throw around phrases such as “carrier-humping, net-neutrality surrender monkey.”

31. If Google had invented e-mail, it would have ceased to exist in 1967.

Fourteen months after it announces its wildly ambitious, innovative, powerful, and confusing Wave communications platform, Google gives up on convincing the world it’s the next big thing and discontinues it.

32. Hurd mentality.

In what’s become a long-standing HP tradition, the tech giant is humiliated yet again by its executive leadership when Chairman and CEO Mark Hurd is forced to resign. The circumstances of his ouster remain fuzzy, but we do know they involve a fifty-year-old ex-Playboy model, softcore porn actresss, and reality-show contestant.

33. Selling like an unspecified number of hotcakes.

Amazon continues its odd tradition of issuing press releases that brag about how well the Kindle e-reader is selling–without ever mentioning numbers. (In December, it finally deigns to say that sales for the quarter are in the “millions.”)

34. Fifty-five year olds who say unsettling things should also be able to change their names, don’t you think?

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Google CEO Eric Schmidt says he believes that young people will one day be allowed to change their names to protect themselves from youthful indiscretions that might otherwise be discovered online. As with about forty percent of Schmidt’s public pronouncements, it’s unclear whether he’s pulling our legs.

35. We’re not killing it. We’re just delaying its release permanently.

Plastic Logic gives up on the idea of releasing the Que e-reader at all, admitting that the market has passed it by. It claims it’ll be back with a “second-generation” version.

36. Sue anything.

Oracle sues Google over Java patents.

37. On a clear day you can sue forever.

Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen sues AOL, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Yahoo, YouTube, and others–but not Microsoft–over an array of patents from his failed Interval Research startup.



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31 Comments For This Post

  1. ghrrs Says:

    "there are still eleven days left in 2011"

    Well, no, we haven't even begun to use them up yet. 🙂

    Great blog and great post!

  2. Harry McCracken Says:

    Thanks for the catch–corrected…

  3. anon Says:

    Hey, what about the Gawker password leak?

  4. Bob Says:

    Ping, anyone?

  5. Anon Says:

    Great list except for the Sarah Palin comment… If stupid tweets are truly tech related then you could just say "twitter" because its full of them.

  6. guest Says:

    What about the iPhone 4 antena problem?

    Its pretty obvious whoever wrote this likes to suck apple flavored cock with all the MS hate.

  7. Paul Says:

    It was mentioned on the first page I think. How about reading the article instead of throwing around vulgar insults.

  8. Fred Says:

    It was mentioned on the second page, but adopts the Apple lie that it was a software problem.

  9. bd42 Says:

    Leaving out "You're holding it wrong" is a grave oversight.

  10. @TheCentauress Says:

    Also leaving out the "Every phone dorps signal if you grip it like you're Koko the Gorilla" gimmick and the "Rubber baby ip4 bumpers" ploy is criminal.

    As well as ignoring the "half a percent" lie.

    Annnnnnnnnnnnnnd the "iPhone upgrade versus Android upgrade" b***s***.

    Also, don't forget… Steve Jobs just lies worse than a cat on a cactus….

  11. jesse Says:

    Vs you, sucking on MS or Google. One of the two. Your just as lame and have no space to talk.

  12. anoymous Says:

    what about AVG pushing an update to its users that caused computers to fail loading windows on restart. It happened to every user with a 64 bit OS forcing them to revert to previous settings or delete files via safe mode.

  13. cmm Says:

    That's just like the McAfee snafu and I think it's only fair they were mentioned first since AVG clearly just wants to share the limelight with the big boys…

  14. guest Says:

    Sprint Pushes 4G – oh, you won't see 4G for years except in certain metro areas, but buy the phone anyway!

  15. johnwbaxter Says:

    Great biergarten photo!

    For geezers:
    "This is my Sister"
    What is her name?

    What does she do?

  16. ffg Says:

    How about the Yahoo!/Delicious "sunset" flap, and Yahoo's subsequent blaming of news outlets for its lack of communication?

  17. marc Says:

    This was an awesome read. I'm surprised that Meg Whitman's reference was simply that she lost her primary. I was anticipating mention of her campaign's tweet that accidentally linked to a youtube video of a japanese guy in a pink tutu playing bass guitar in his bedroom.

  18. Marvo Says:

    She didn't lose in the primary. She lost the general election to Governor Elect Jerry Brown.

    I suspect the two losing candidates warranted mention here because their tech backgrounds garnered them the millions to make their runs. But you're right, there were technical gaffes on both sides of the governor's race.

  19. Peter Says:

    Nice list. I’d drop one of the many “sue” items in favor of Sony removing OtherOS from the PS3.

  20. Paul Says:

    I would have combined all of the lawsuit items instead of peppering them in the article. They are making the same point and usually involved the same parties.

  21. The_Heraclitus Says:

    A Palin typo is a 'Lame Tech moment'?

    Harry, do you have Palin derangement syndrome?

    Other than that brain fart, good list.

  22. somedude Says:

    Speaking of 11 days left. FCC just pushed out a really watered down and useless Net Neutrality thing.

  23. Rick Says:

    Good list-except for the political drop-in.

    Or a bad list…full of bad things that seem to keep happening year after year.

    It's almost so bad that you could just do a list of bad *lawsuits* all by themselves.

    and as others have mentioned, it's a bit early to wrap up the list. The Gawker crack is a good "bad" one, as well as the AV glitches…and there's still two weeks remaining of 2010-plenty of time for another lawsuit! 😛

    here's to hoping that for 2011, it becomes very hard to compile a list of stupid tech mistakes!

  24. jtnix Says:

    Causal and casual are two different words. Although the 'causal' comment was kinda funny, I wouldn't call it some kind of tech blunder.

    Also, rather mobile tech-centric Heinz 57, aren't we?

  25. Bla Says:

    what about digg V4 ?

  26. Martin Says:

    and how would it not be one of the first things mentioned. certainly the first thing that comes to mid when i think of tech flops this past year. horrible, horrible horrible crap.

  27. Norm Says:

    TWOm rhymes with "Tomb"

  28. dom Says:

    57 is such a lame number

  29. YetAnotherBob Says:

    You left of on the Paul Allen suing everyone, that it was later dismissed because they never identified what patents were infringed, or what products were infringing.

    Or does that belong on a bad lawyer-ing blog?

  30. dholyer Says:

    Has anyone done a best and worst of Vaporware list yet. Or is that idea also Vaperware?

  31. JCarlson Says:

    InfoWorld blogger Randall Kennedy Check out his blogs for last year at this time. You couldn't be more wrong about pretty much everything. Very Funny!