The Bad Now for the flipside. Clearly, the economy really stunk for most of the year, resulting in layoffs, shortages, lots of doom and gloom, and a Comdex that radiated a fraction of its former glory. Dont even get me started on spam, which approached national crisis levels as the government attempted to respond.What were they thinking? IBM launched ThinkVantage, and the software created problems with those of us who had the otherwise wonderful T-40 laptops. Whether it was issues with Rapid Restore taking out our files or phantom wireless problems that just didnt seem to want to go away, the moment peaked with a group of analysts actually asking Intel to go to IBM on their behalf to fix the related problems. And the award for worst mobile product goes to. ... : Sharp brought out a new version of its Linux-based Zaurus, which cost a whopping $850 here in the states and wouldnt synchronize with any major e-mail program. This was a huge step back (remember the old $100 PDAs that didnt sync with anything?) and probably should get the award for one the worst mobile products of the year along with that horrible Nokia game phone. Trusted computing: Trusted computing, a technology backed by an international cast of vendors and even more critical for mobile machines than for desktops, went virtually nowhere. Even though companies like IBM feel it is critical for open-source platforms, concerns about digital rights management and government access sidelined the effort. Chinas new Wi-Fi rules: China decided to start driving technology standards; its first, targeted at Wi-Fi, would provide a back door for the Chinese government and heavily favor Chinese technology providers. This could herald similar actions by other countries, making it nearly impossible for an international company to compete or for folks to have smart phones, laptops or handheld computers with embedded Wi-Fi devices. A bad Apple: Apple, not to be outdone by Microsoft in the horrible-pricing-decision department, didnt give provide recent hardware customers its new OS for free or even at a discount. Some folks found that they had to pay the $130 even if they bought the new hardware after the release of the new OS. This year Apple gets the crown for sticking it to loyal customers. Patch pain: Microsoft patches were certainly no fun either; while much of this was driven by folks who seemed to take every security alert and turn it into an attack (not exactly pillars of our community), these patches drove IT managers to distraction worldwide. Apple and Linux had patch problems as well, once again demonstrating how difficult this feat is when you are dealing with large numbers of machines. Silicon Valley to close Its doors: The most recent really sad event was Silicon Valley announcing they would cease operations at the end of the year. Right on the cusp of the recovery, it is a shame to see this mainstay of the technology media world follow so many others. My fingers remain crossed for TechTV. Ending on a high note, recent surveys indicate the market is in recovery (there is even a company, VenLogic, training firms on how to do IPOs); HP is being rewarded for skillfully executing its merger; Microsoft has generally recovered from its pricing mistake; and even Gateway is suddenly looking like a player again. On a personal note, I havent had a major crash in months and discovered a whole new set of PC-modder toys to keep me going over the holidays. Here is hoping for the best for you in the New Year! Rob Enderle is the principal analyst for the Enderle Group, a company specializing in emerging personal technology.
Diversity on the desktop: The absolute worst event of 2003 was a group of "security experts" arguing for diversity on the desktop, backed up by an idiotic recommendation from one of the large firms to put 10 percent of IT staff on Apple. Throwing out nearly two decades of data on the benefits of desktop standards, this classic "research" recommendation would only add cost and virtually no benefit. Desktops are not serverstoo many seem to forget thisand there is still no substitute for thinking.