Top IT Turkeys of 2011

Here are the people, companies and products that earned the label of 'turkey' over the past year.

Turkey talk

You know, it just doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving to me unless I have mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and an iPad with the annual Network World Top IT Turkeys slideshow all arranged on the table for the feast. So let’s sharpen our knives and get to the carving, because these turkeys are getting cold.

Top IT Turkeys of 2010

Top IT Turkeys of 2009

IE users are so dumb, they must be journalists

IE users are so dumb, they must be journalists

I guess it was one of those stories that just felt right. In late July, multiple prominent news organizations reported the results of a study that found that people who use Internet Explorer scored lower on IQ tests than everyone else. Eventually, though, the BBC started questioning the “research firm’s” credentials and exposed the study as a hoax. Yes, we know we’re journalists, but this time we didn’t bite , so we get to have a chuckle. This time.

What the Flip?

What the Flip?

Early this year, Cisco encountered a few financial bumps and decided it really needed to refocus . Unfortunately, the Flip videocamera was a victim of Cisco’s belt-tightening. Despite its popularity when Cisco bought Flip maker Pure Digital in 2009 for $590 million, Cisco had had trouble making a go of it, and just shut it down , as part of a restructuring of its consumer business. The industry, and our readers, were shocked that Cisco never tried to sell Flip to recoup some of its losses.

Where can I buy the sock puppet?

Where can I buy the sock puppet?

Remember Pets.com? Of course you do. But what you remember are the commercials and the way the company flamed out in the dot-com bust - you probably didn’t shop there, as almost no one did. Earlier this year, Amazon-owned Quidsi launched Wag.com , a site that is basically trying to do what Pets.com did, but with a less obvious domain name and a smaller advertising budget. Company execs say they won’t make the same mistakes that Pets.com made, but as Buzzblog’s Paul McNamara found out, the site holds about as much appeal.

Putting the ?mock? in mock turtlenec

Putting the “mock” in mock turtleneck

Steve Jobs’ death in early October prompted a wave of interest in the man, the products he created and the style he embodied. In his later years, that style would include his iconic black mock turtleneck, designed specifically for him by Japanese designer Issey Miyake, and NOT by menswear maker Knitcraft, which nonetheless had a message on its St. Croix Website claiming that Jobs was a “fan” until The Smoking Gun pointed out otherwise. News outlets had even interviewed Knitcraft’s founder, one of which quoted the founder as saying “we’re going to miss Steven Jobs as a customer” who bought two dozen black turtlenecks from them annually , but Knitcraft later denied he made those claims.

Mobile madness

Mobile madness

Despite its dominance of the desktop, Microsoft has long had trouble cracking the code on mobile devices. Now it seems to have found success – but not through its Windows Mobile operating system. Instead, Microsoft is going a backdoor route, using its patents to get Android licensees to pay Microsoft royalties, and supposedly the company is making more this way than it does through Windows Mobile. Microsoft pressured 10 Android OEMs into agreements without ever having to disclose publicly what exactly was being licensed. But Barnes & Noble is fighting back , and has brought the patents into the light of day, claiming they are “trivial” and “insignificant.”

That?ll show ?e

That’ll show ‘em

The San Francisco public transit system BART over the summer suddenly cut cell phone service to its customers. Officials claimed that demonstrators were planning to “disrupt” BART service and use cell phones to coordinate the disruption. Was the move really done out of safety concerns, as BART suggested, or was it trying to “trample the rights of the law-abiding simply to make easier its job of dealing with a handful of potential lawbreakers,” as Paul McNamara suggests? You be the judge.

What could possibly go wrong?

What could possibly go wrong?

So you’re in your office at Dell, minding your own business, when a person dressed like a biker in all black, wearing a black mask and holding a metallic object, shows up at your office door and tells you to go to the lobby. Are you being taken hostage? Why no, it’s just an internal promotional stunt to celebrate your new product launch. Too bad no one told you that before you dialed 911. And too bad no one told the SWAT team.

WhackedBerry

WhackedBerry

Research in Motion was once on top of the world, with users so addicted to BlackBerry devices that they called them CrackBerries. But the company has had an awful year. Already behind in the mobile device arms race , shipments of the company’s PlayBook tablet plummeted , leading one analyst to conclude that it is on the way out . In the midst of this turmoil, RIM experienced a service outage that took four days to fully restore, leading to profuse apologies from executives and lawsuit threats . In the end, RIM just started giving away products in an attempt to retain customers, with free apps and buy-2-get-1-free deals on PlayBook.

It?s a network worl

It’s a network world

2011 was the year that world leaders really started to understand how powerful the Internet is. And for some leaders, that power was seen as a threat to their own. As Egypt’s citizens rose up, the government’s response was to strike down the Internet itself. At first, it was limited to Twitter , but a few days later the Internet went dark for the whole country . As unrest spread to other parts of the Mideast, other countries tried the tactic as well – in Libya and Syria . But the Internet is bigger than any one country. People found workarounds, and the movements were not stopped.

HP must stand for Hot Potato

HP must stand for Hot Potato

Even more painful than watching RIM suffer was watching HP lurch from one extreme to the next. The company introduced its own tablet, the TouchPad, only to yank it a month after it started shipping . HP said it would spin off its PC business and then decided to hang onto it after all. And over the course of the year, HP hired new CEO Leo Apotheker, fired him, gave him a fat severance, and replaced him with Meg Whitman .

Did we miss any turkeys? Let us know in the comments.

Related:

Top IT Turkeys of 2010

Top IT Turkeys of 2009

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