Top IT Turkeys of 2009

Our annual list of bad behavior returns

What does Balloon Boy have in common with VMware's Scott Drummonds? Can the mouth of Kanye West compare to that of a former Cisco executive? Which IT companies' divorce is at least as messy as Jon and Kate's? These are the deep philosophical questions that this year's annual IT Turkeys list (in honor of Thanksgiving) aims to answer. So grab a metaphorical carving knife and click on.

IOS 15: The dirty dozens

IOS 15: The dirty dozens

After four years, Cisco finally released a major overhaul of its operating system software, IOS. This was the next major upgrade to IOS 12.4, but in a turkey move the company couldn't bring itself to call it IOS 13, perhaps understandably. As for "14," well, who knows? Counting doesn't seem to be the router giant's strongpoint. Apparently, neither is simplicity. The day IOS 15 was released, Cisco admitted in its documentation that the new software had dozens of known bugs - or rather, "caveats." Better luck with the next release - which should be what, IOS 18?

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Eating crow instead of turkey

Eating crow instead of turkey

VMware's Scott Drummonds wins his place on the 2009 IT Turkeys list for a move that would make Balloon Boy's dad jealous. Drummonds was forced to publicly apologize for anonymously posting a fake YouTube video about Microsoft Hyper-V. The video made exaggerated claims about Hyper-V's lack of reliability. As for fake videos becoming the next great marketing trick for virtualization vendors, let's just call this entire episode a failed trial balloon .

Microsoft's nauseating advertising

Microsoft's nauseating advertising

In 2009 Microsoft gave us yet another feast of bad advertising . This has become an annual tradition (in 2008 Microsoft advertising landed on this list for the embarrassing, nonsensical non-epics of Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld ). In 2009, we had the guess-what-it's-fake Laptop Hunter ads (starring actors, not real people); and the Family Guy/Windows 7 snafu (where Microsoft inexplicably didn't know it was aligning itself with a show famous for political incorrectness). The turkey-ist ad, of course, was the infamous Internet Explorer 8 vomit ad, which tried to convince you to use the new browser by showing a woman throwing up and a man rolling around in those expelled stomach contents. Yum. Pass the mashed potatoes and gravy – and Firefox .

The vanishing cloud

The vanishing cloud

Cloud computing vendors spent another year laying eggs that damaged cloud computing's already burned reputation as an enterprise-ready concept. In October, users of Sidekick devices on the T-Mobile network discovered that their devices' data, stored in Danger's cloud, had been wiped out – including contacts, pictures and calendar entries. At the time, it looked as if the data was gone for good – although Microsoft (who owns Danger) was later able to restore most of it. Google, too, gave us yet another series of high-profile outages of its Google News , e-mail and Blogger services . But let's not forget when the cloud also vanished for Amazon, eBay and Salesforce.com, too. For these reasons, cloud computing earned a second year on this IT Turkey list .

A red face for BlueCross BlueShield Association

A red face for BlueCross BlueShield Association

It's 2009, for Pete's sake. Haven't the dangers of leaving sensitive information on a laptop in a car been made clear enough by now? Yet, we have the story of another stolen laptop - and poof, 850,000 doctors are asked to swallow the bitter pill of knowing that their professional and personal information could be headed for identity theft. In October, a file containing identifying information for every physician in the country contracted with a Blues-affiliated insurance plan was on a laptop computer stolen from a BlueCross BlueShield Assn. employee's car. We have two life-saving words for you, BlueCross: data encryption.

Open wide, insert e-mail

Open wide, insert e-mail

In a match between Kanye West's mouth and Mike Volpi's e-mail, we'd have to call it a draw. Cisco's one-time golden boy (and former heir apparent to John Chambers) took over the CEO role at YouTube-like competitor Joost in 2007 and was ousted two years later . Volpi entangled himself in the legal scuffle surrounding Skype, whose founders also created Joost. Skype's founders were suing to thwart eBay from selling Skype to others. Volpi tried to organize an investor group with them to buy Skype back. But it's the stuff Volpi said in e-mail that will make you shake your head. For instance, this is what he wrote about another former Cisco star, Charles Giancarlo: "Charlie is a good guy, but not = superstar either. His core asset at Cisco is that he was much =ore<sic> inclined to say 'yes' to John than I was."

Rainy days for the BlackBerry Storm

Rainy days for the BlackBerry Storm

RIM lands on this list for the perfect storm it created around its disappointing supposed iPhone killer, the BlackBerry Storm. Even with the new Blackberry Storm 2, which fixes many of the problems with the original, the Storm may have missed its window to be a serious contender against the iPhone. And Android devices look like they will now move in. In September, RIM had two devices in the top 20 U.S. handsets, according to AdMob: The BlackBerry 8300 (the Curve) ranked No. 7 and the BlackBerry 8100 (the Pearl) at No. 15. Not a storm in sight.

Microhoo, the undead deal

Microhoo, the undead deal

If the vampires from Twilight were to work at a corporation, that company would be Microhoo. The relationship between Microsoft and Yahoo seems destined to eternal "almost death." The high-profiled failed attempt by Microsoft to buy Yahoo in 2008 was suddenly reborn into a 10-year search partnership. This plan was announced in July and was to be finalized by Oct. 27. But the companies missed the deadline, saying that talks will be extended for an unspecified period. They now hope to figure it out by 2010. Where's Buffy when you need her?

Apple vs. Google: Don't wanna hear it

Apple vs. Google: Don't wanna hear it

The ugly, messy divorce of reality celebs Jon and Kate Gosselin has a counterpart in the IT world: Apple's split with Google. Now, you might want to argue that Apple's OCD, controlling behavior with its closed operating systems and smartphone was unspeakably cruel to quasi-open-source loving Google. But does that justify Google's cheating ways? First carrying on with its own mobile operating system, Android, and then stepping out with its own operating system, Google Chrome OS? Tsk, tsk. What's a spurned Apple to do? For starters, it kicked Google's CEO off its board . It then removed all Google Voice applications from the iPhone by yanking them out of the Apple Store . The bickering divorcees were left to sort it out, along with AT&T, in an FCC investigation. Sad as this may be for the large family of developers depending on the couple, it did make for a feast of a story. Gobble, gobble.

Ex-Nortel CEO: a glutton for money

Ex-Nortel CEO: a glutton for money

In October, ex-Nortel CEO Mike Zafirovski astounded the industry by seeking more than $12 million from the bankrupt company. Zafirovski, who failed to turn around the venerable telecom giant after an accounting scandal, a series of financial restatements and the economic recession, petitioned the bankruptcy court to give him a payout of $12,250,543. And 48 cents. Nortel filed for bankruptcy in January, began liquidating assets in June, and saw Zafirovski resign in August. Zafirovski claims his 2005 employment contract with Nortel entitles him to the millions, even though shareholders, employees and Nortel's creditors were left to go hungry. Zafirovski's behavior earns him the title of 2009's top IT turkey.

Did we miss any? Are there any notorious people or companies missing from our list? Name your top turkeys of 2009 in the comments. Happy Thanksgiving!

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