In 2012, the highly respected IT giant wallowed in corporate mistakes made years ago, and it will take a few more years to get back fully on track. Even though the company fired him in September 2011 after a crazy 11 months as CEO, Leo Apotheker's influence is still impacting the company in negative ways. On Nov. 20, the company was forced to take a whopping $8.8 billion charge for the Autonomy acquisition that Apotheker advocated, alleging "serious accounting improprieties, disclosure failures and outright misrepresentations at Autonomy that occurred prior to HP's acquisition of Autonomy." HP basically wrote down 80 percent of the value of the transaction. The bigger question: Who vetted this deal for HP?
No matter how much money is invested in security, IT police just cannot catch up with all those nasty hackers around the world who are bent on causing mayhem, for whatever reason. It's well-known that certain governments—especially those without a liking for democracy—have highly paid teams of hackers to infiltrate agencies of the government and the military, as well as institutions such as banking, health care and the media. Amazon, Google and a number of other highly protected Web services were knocked off-track for periods of time in 2012, and no doubt it will continue to happen.
Apple iOS6 Maps
In October, Apple fired one of Steve Jobs' key executives, software head Scott Forstall, after he refused to apologize to users for the bad performance of the app. Forstall led a team that designed the Maps app in iOS 6 that was intended to replace Google Maps, eliminating the software of Apple's primary competitor from its devices. When the Apple Maps app was found to be faulty and roundly criticized by consumers, Forstall refused to sign an apology issued by Apple. So CEO Tim Cook ultimately made the apology himself.
Google and Apple eWallets, Isis and Passbook: Do you know anybody who is using any of them? Thought so. That alone should explain this expensive development turkey that has yet to catch on after a couple of years in the market. Does the smartphone have to replace everything?
After promising a new BlackBerry for two years—and having lost precious market share to iOS, Android and now Windows phones—RIM by November still hadn't come out with its BlackBerry 10, the device that will make or break the company. By this time, however, the market may have just run right by Canada's biggest smartphone maker. Oh, yes, and the company management turned over completely in 2012—never a good sign to investors.
This formerly cutting-edge (first with tabs) browser is still No. 2 behind Internet Explorer in usage, but probably not for much longer, with Google Chrome quickly moving up. It seems as if more bugs get put into it—rather than extracted from it—as time goes on. Firefox is bloated, slow and crashes far too often. Even Microsoft has made improvements in its browser that run circles around this one. Get with it, Mozilla.
Adobe Flash Player
Why in the world does Adobe have to send out updates and/or fixes to its multimedia Web plug-in seemingly every other week? Can't they get it right and leave us alone? Even once a month would be an improvement. We are getting awfully tired of having to download and install this little guy all the time. We now see why Steve Jobs didn't care for it.
Google Nexus Q
This cool-looking globe-like home multimedia console apparently was only half-baked when it was distributed to media types at the company's Nexus 7 tablet launch earlier this year. It connects a PC to a TV but apparently doesn't do much else at this point. The Q already has disappeared from Google's products Website and may not be back for a while.
For a long time, Advanced Micro Devices was able to compete fairly well against Intel in price and performance for desktop PC and servers processors, but those days are pretty much gone because it couldn't adapt to changing PC requirements fast enough. So the company is moving into the tighter realm of making higher-powered chips for high-performance computing. This will take a full two to three years to get financially productive, keeping the investors and analysts at bay. It remains to be seen if this strategy will be the best one.
Ten years ago, the Finnish smartphone maker was atop the mobile device world—no other handset maker had the broad selection, performance and durability that Nokia phones had. But the competition (Apple, Google, Samsung and many others) eventually caught and passed it, and now the company has had to make a deal with Microsoft for Windows phones to help keep it afloat. Its Lumia 900, released with ballyhoo as its flagship Windows 7 phone, was dropped from its lineup seven months after its North American launch in favor of newer Windows Phone 8-based devices. Since then, even sales of the replacement phones have been bad.