Top IT Turkeys of 2010

Let's look back at the IT companies, products and people who exhibited turkey-like behavior in 2010.

Yo, gobble gobble

Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks for all of the people and things we love, to cherish what's most important to us. But that's for another slideshow. This one's all about taunting the companies, products and people who most resembled a turkey over the last year. So cut me a hockey-puck-shaped slice of jellied cranberry sauce and read on.

Past turkeys:

Top IT turkeys of 2009

Top IT turkeys of 2008

Top IT turkeys of 2007

Will a boot sector virus make my feet itch?

In the proud tradition of Dr. Jekyll and Jeff Goldblum's character from "The Fly," a "scientist" decided that the only way to prove his theory – or rather, to draw ridiculous amounts of attention – was to turn his science on himself. Dr. Mark Gasson from the University of Reading claimed to be the first human infected by a computer virus , because he put a virus in an RFID chip and stuck the chip in his hand. I had a desktop computer that got a virus once. Where can we stick that?

Wanted: Sense of humor

Long Island's Newsday newspaper had a great video ad that got hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. It depicted a man reading his Newsday in its brand-new format on an Apple iPad. At the end of the ad, the man "forgets" that his newspaper isn't made of paper, and uses the iPad to smack a buzzing fly. The iPad shatters into a million pieces. It was pretty funny, and we would love to show it to you, but we can't. That's because SOMEONE didn't like the ad, and Newsday ended up pulling it down. Wonder who?

The great white hype

As you may have heard, Apple still has not produced a white version of its iPhone 4; in fact, it has delayed shipments three times, and is now saying we'll finally have a white iPhone in spring 2011 . What is taking Apple so long? It's just white, right? Is that really so difficult? Now that I think about it, though, the last time I went to Benjamin Moore they had 140 shades of white available. Maybe Steve Jobs is just having a tough time choosing. Anyway, in the meantime, the phoning public is getting really antsy – especially this guy . One enterprising teenager has even started his own white iPhone conversion business . Just don't try to sell them on eBay .

Forever. Or 12 months, whatever comes first

If you're going to promise the world your product is going to "forever change the Internet," then it really ought to change the Internet, maybe even forever, or people just aren't going to take you seriously anymore. But perhaps that's just old-fashioned, Web 1.0 thinking. Certainly, when Cisco made those inflated claims about its "major technology announcement" and it turned out just to be the CRS-3 router everyone was expecting, you could hear the air going out of Network World Managing Editor Jim Duffy's balloon . It sounded like this: "That's it? The CRS-3?...  Something that Juniper says it will leapfrog in about a year. Something that will only 'change the Internet' for 12 months before something comes along to 'change the Internet' again. Something that, if it really did change things for us on the Internet, would we notice?"

Leggo my logo

With the universe safe from spies, terrorists, hackers, pedophiles, mobsters, gang leaders and serial killers , the FBI turned its sharp eye toward a new menace: Wikipedia. The bureau sent our wiki friends a letter threatening legal action if they did not remove a picture of the FBI seal from its Wikipedia entry. The Wikipedia lawyers replied with a letter telling the FBI to go hum on a lemon. Or words to that effect. Naturally, the entirety of online media reported on the FBI's folly, and stuck a picture of the seal on every blessed story. We did, too – and we're still waiting for our letter.

Kin can't

Now, we know what you're thinking: Where's Microsoft in this list? After all, Microsoft has featured prominently every single year we've been doing this. Really, Microsoft is more like a fish in a barrel than a wild turkey. But never fear; Microsoft had a couple of product turkeys this year, including the Kin phone, which was on the market for all of six weeks before Microsoft yanked it , (though it recently seems to have undergone a rebirth ) and the Courier tablet , which never made it out of Microsoft's labs, even as the Apple iPad went gangbusters. (In fairness on Courier, though, Microsoft never publicly announced it nor demonstrated it.)

The most expensive iPhone ever

Ever since the iPhone 4 debuted and the cops retreated to their CSI labs to investigate, it seems like everyone has forgotten the uproar over gadget site Gizmodo obtaining a prototype of the latest iPhone last spring. An Apple engineer lost the prototype at a bar , and another patron picked it up and sold it to Gizmodo. The incident raised issues about ethics, not to mention lawfulness . Meanwhile, the authorities got a warrant and broke into a Gizmodo editor's home, prompting comedian Jon Stewart to chastise Apple for becoming " the Man ." An investigation into who is the biggest turkey here is ongoing.

Net neuter-ality

As the government hemmed and hawed over the controversial issue of net neutrality, in waded Google and Verizon, on the one hand claiming to be champions of net neutrality, and on the other hand making big fat turkey-like exceptions for wireless networks and "additional online services." How would those services be defined, and how are they different from what travels over the Internet today? Writes Scott Bradner : "This proposal looks to me like Google and Verizon want to authorize a non-Internet in parallel to the Internet, a non-Internet in name and regulation only, and that is not good for anyone other than the carriers."

Rhymes with 'Hurd'

Mark Hurd resigned from his post as CEO of HP under accusations of sexual harassment from a former marketing contractor, Jodie Fisher. While HP eventually found that Hurd did not actually violate its sexual harassment policy, it did say Hurd fell short of its standards of business conduct regarding some fudged expense accounts – and some have reported that he may have said a little too much to Fisher about HP's plan to acquire EDS . While Hurd lost his job, HP still gave him a severance payment of $12.2 million in cash and $16 million in stock. And buddy Larry Ellison, Oracle CEO, quickly snapped up Hurd and gave him the position of co-president of Oracle . At least for now, Hurd must be giving thanks this Thanksgiving.


Facebook introduced a few changes to its privacy settings in April that spurred a huge backlash among its users and privacy groups , and eventually had to change the settings to give users more control . Meanwhile, Google also raised privacy concerns with its Street View pictures , its Wi-Fi scanning its Google Buzz contacts and just general ickiness . Plus, Google CEO Eric Schmidt keeps saying things that make you wonder how much you should really be trusting it to stay on the non-creepy side of the "creepy line." In the end, though, who is the real turkey here? Is it the company that makes the most out of the private information we willingly give it - or are we the turkeys for giving them the power in the first place? Alternatively, should we just accept that giving up some level of privacy is just the price we pay for otherwise free services in the Information Age? Gobble, gobble.


Top IT turkeys of 2009

Top IT turkeys of 2008

Top IT turkeys of 2007

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.