IT industry graveyard 2009

Paying respects to Nortel as we knew it, Circuit City and more

Nothing gets readers debating like a good "Is X dead?" headline. Network World and its sister publications ran our share this year, including " Is VoIP dead? ", " Twitter is Dead ," " The Zune is dead, long live Zune HD ", and " Windows 7 touch: Dead on arrival ." Here's a look at more than a dozen technology products, companies and events that have been killed off so far this year, though whether they all stay dead is open to some debate.

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2008 IT industry graveyard

2007 IT industry graveyard

Notable deaths in IT during 2008


The "Great Sell-Off of 2009" will leave Nortel looking nothing like its old self, or possibly looking like nothing at all. Avaya has grabbed the company's enterprise business for $900 million-plus, Ericsson nabbed its wireless business and Ciena is purchasing Nortel's Metro Ethernet Networks business, for starters.


Companies such as Novell scrapped annual events such as BrainShare in 2009 due to potential attendees' severe travel cutbacks. (However, BrainShare's not gone for good. Novell is resurrecting the event for 2010 and registration is open .) Novell wasn't alone in saying "the show must not necessarily go on" in 2009, with Gartner nixing a couple of its big spring Symposium events.

EDS brand

EDS brand

HP announced in September it would leave the EDS brand behind and rename its IT services provider business HP Enterprise Services . The name change came a year after HP acquired the market-leading outsourcer for $13.9 billion in a deal that shot HP to the top of the IT services market, right behind its largest competitor IBM.

service-oriented architecture

Anne Thomas Manes, a vice president at Burton Group, pronounced service-oriented architectures dead to kick off the year. "SOA met its demise on Jan. 1, 2009, when it was wiped out by the catastrophic impact of the economic recession. SOA is survived by its offspring: mashups, BPM, SaaS cloud computing, and all other architectural approaches that depend on 'services,'" Manes wrote in her blog. However, not everyone agrees. CA, for example, issued a report early this year showing that SOA deployments were on the rise .

Sun\'s rock

Reports surfaced during the summer that Sun had snuffed out the 16-core server processors originally due for deliver in fall of 2009. Rock would have doubled the core count over Sun's fastest processor, the eight-core UltraSparc T2, and been used in high-end servers for data-intensive applications.


Industry watchers jumped all over Sun for not agreeing to a $7 billion takeover by IBM , lamenting that it might not find another taker (of course, soon enough Oracle stepped in ).

Circuit City

The second-biggest retailer of consumer electronics announced in January that it was shutting its remaining 500-plus stores and selling off its goods, after a poor holiday season couldn't get it out of bankruptcy. Some 34,000 employees lost their jobs in the meltdown. And Best Buy lost its biggest rival. Circuit City does have a chance to live on online though in light of a buyout of some of its e-commerce business in April .

Ruckus free music network

PC World's Brennon Slattery, in the wake of the plug being pulled on the Ruckus Network, wrote "Looks like college students have to go back to stealing." The ad-supported service, which launched at Northern Illinois University in 2004 and was owned by TotalMusic, had partnered with 80-plus campuses to offer free music. But little problems, like not working well with Macs or iPods so popular among students, led to its demise. (By the way, not to be confused with Ruckus Wireless , which is alive and kicking.)

ConSentry Networks

The network access control pioneer announced in August it was going out of business. Mario Nemirovsky, the founder and chief scientist for the company, told employees "This is a sad day." ConSentry joined a growing list of NAC vendors that have either been bought, folded or changed direction since the concept of the technology came on the scene in 2003. Lockdown Networks and Cayman Systems folded and Mirage Networks was bought earlier this year by security service provider TrustWave. The year actually started off well for ConSentry, which bagged $9.4 million in fresh venture funding .

Microsoft Windows Live OneCare, Popfly, Encarta and Soapbox

Microsoft put several of its offerings out of their misery this year. For example, two years after trying to build a consumer antivirus business, Microsoft decided to throw in the towel, discontinuing retail sales of its Windows Live OneCare product at the end of June, and instead is offering Windows users free antivirus software as part of its Security Essentials package . Separately, the company killed off its Popfly hosted tool designed to help non-programmers build Web pages, mashups and games. Microsoft is also shutting down its Encarta encyclopedia Web sites as of Oct. 31 and will discontinue its Student and Premium Encarta software products. "The category of traditional encyclopedias and reference material has changed," read a note explaining the move on the MSN Encarta Web site. "People today seek and consume information in considerably different ways than in years past." On the last day of August, Microsoft shut down its YouTube competitor, Soapbox. Microsoft officials blamed the cost of the service in this economy as the reason for its demise.

HP Upline

HP said it was closing down its online backup service in March, less than a year after it launched. HP didn't explain the move, other than to say it continually evaluates its offerings.

Domain tasting

The entity in charge of the Internet's addressing system declared victory over an abusive trend in registering domain names. Last year, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) modified its domain name registration policy to make it more expensive for people to register domain names en masse. The move was intended to stop "domain tasting," where someone registers a raft of domain names and then monitors those domains for up to five days to see which domains attract a lot of visitors. If the domain looks like a loser, a person could get a refund within five days. The grace period is intended to allow people to be refunded, for example, if they made a spelling mistake while registering a domain.

Palm OS

Palm pulled the plug on its Palm OS operating system, betting its future on its new webOS, built to power the Pre smart phone. The current Centro smartphone will be the last to use the Palm OS. "There will be no more Palm OS products ," CEO Ed Colligan said.

Nokia WiMAX Internet tablet

Nokia scrapped its WiMAX N810 Internet Tablet device in January, just months after it became available in the United States for Sprint's Xohm network, and just as Sprint partner Clearwire was ramping up its WiMAX expansion. The device boasted a 4.1-inch touchscreen and slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Nokia planned to continue selling other models of the device.

Verizon VoIP Hub for home users

Verizon quietly killed off the combination phone/touch screen Web device for homes just eight months after launching it in February. The Hub was designed to integrate VoIP and wireless calls and work over any broadband wired connection, not just Verizon FiOS.


SiCortex, a Maynard, Mass., start-up that tried to stake out new ground in the high-performance computing market with machines designed for energy efficiency, shut down during the spring. Not long before the company seemed to be on a roll, reporting revenue growth of more than 100% in the first quarter of 2009, based on sales of machines that could exceed $1 million. But SiCortex shut down operations after its venture capital investors pulled out.

Qwest Wireless cellphone service

Qwest Wireless cell phone service

Qwest discontinued its Qwest Wireless cellular phone service on Oct. 31 after terminating its deal with Sprint, and encouraged customers to switch to a new wireless provider (Qwest is partnering now with Verizon Wireless). Customers who do not transition to a new wireless service provider by Oct. 31 would have their service disconnected and would forfeit their Qwest Wireless phone number . Qwest began notifying customers of the change in May.

Yahoo\'s GeoCities Web hosting service

Yahoo's GeoCities Web hosting service

Yahoo on Oct. 26 killed off the GeoCities Web hosting service , once one of the most popular sites on the Web. Yahoo bought GeoCities in 1999 for more than $3 billion in stock, but the buyout turned into a bust, in part due to outdated technology, in part to mismanagement on Yahoo's part. Yahoo encouraged GeoCities users to switch to a paid service, or at least download data to their PCs, before the cutoff.

Charles Darwin

Just to end things on a more uplifting note, technology was also used this year to bring Charles Darwin back from the dead. Carnegie Mellon University's 10-year-old Synthetic Interview Technology (or in this case, Darwin Synthetic Interview) was behind a new "Ask Darwin" exhibit at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh to celebrate Darwin's 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of "On the Origin of Species" being published. CMU and Duquesne University collaborated on the project. Read more.

Separately, Symantec announced it has revived the Norton Utilities optimization and cleanup tools for Windows that it folded years ago into a broader package after buying Norton.

And last but not least, 3Com has brought back to life its enterprise switch business, which it has twice aced.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.