Top 10 technology gaffes of 2008

With the new year rolling in, a few companies will be happy to forget some of their worst moments of 2008. Since this is a Google blog, we have to include Google in this list. Otherwise, any tech company is fair game. Read on to find out which missteps were the worst of the year. 1. Google Mail Goggles The idea is sound -- giving you an opportunity to reclaim an outgoing e-mail before you embarrass yourself. We've all done it, but not often because we're drunk, especially at work. (If you are drunk at work, you have far worse problems than embarrassing e-mails.) The name "Mail Goggles" is a play on "beer goggles" but it just makes Google seem goofy, not clever or funny. 2. BlackBerry Storm No other phone that shipped in 2008 was such a major disappointment. Using the device is like trying to type on a fabric keyboard while sinking in a ship. BlackBerry is known for their excellent thumbpads on just about every phone, from the Bold to the Pearl. The Storm also seems low tech: it doesn't use haptics, it's just a big plastic screen you push down to type. Awkward! 3. Anything related to Yahoo This was a tough year for Yahoo. They ended up looking like money-grubbing morons during the Microsoft take-over bid. Then, during the recent lay-offs, Jerry Yang's all lowercase memos were just tacky. The one silver lining: Yang will soon step down as CEO. 4. Techie mags ceasing print publication Obviously, the entire world is moving online -- with applications, news, movies -- you name it. Yet, it's odd when the beloved tech mags (like PC Magazine) cease making print issues. If anything it seems like print issues are even more common these days, judging by the number of them at Barnes and Noble. Apprently, there is vast interest in knitting and dogs but not as much about processors and printers in the print world. 5. WowWee Mr. Personality The makers of the Robosapien had a misstep with Mr. Personality, one of the dumbest ideas for a robot in recent memory. Two voices on the robot tell really lame jokes to each other, sort of a Mr. Split Personality, and complain constantly if the sensors think you'll hit something. 6. Digital Media Adapters -- all of them Media adapters are supposed to solve a simple problem: that we store music, movies and photos on a computer but would like to access them from the living room. 2008 marks the year that they have gone belly up. Samsung released one that uses Windows Media Center of all things. Instead, anyone who really wants to stream media won't bother with, say, the Apple TV. They'll just use an Xbox or PS3. 7. Windows Home Server Here's a product with a lot of potential: install a server in your home for remote access, storing media files, and performing back-ups. Yet, rumors about lost files in the first release and a confusing naming scheme ("home server" implies it is not for business, even though it's a great fit) made it less than appealing. HP has now announced a successor, and maybe 2009 will be the year it takes off. 8. Reports on the health of Steve Jobs This was one long, embarrassing tech gaffe. Reputable organizations such as the New York Times reported several times about the health of Steve Jobs. Rumors were fast and furious after the Apple CEO looked a little frail at his Macworld keynote. Yet, it is none of our business. One response to all of the deathwatch gossip: Apple decided to skip the Jobs keynote and will pull out of Macworld altogether. 9. Wired Magazine The once mighty print publication and matching Web site (disclosure, I have written for both) have almost nothing to do with technology anymore. The most recent issue has the ghost of a woman on the cover and an article about finding a cure for cancer, but doesn't really mention much of the amazing computer processing work being done (such as protein weighing) and focuses almost entirely on the science. Another article, on a Charlie Kaufman movie, could have ended up in Entertainment Weekly. 10. Lists like this one Okay, I am sick of lists. Every blogger knows a list is the best way to attract attention on Digg, which drives traffic. I even saw a top ten list of top ten lists the other day. Enough already! I promise not to do lists every other blog post if you promise to stop clicking on them so much!

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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