The 15 Biggest Tech Disappointments of 2007
#8. Needs To Change Its Spots: Apple "Leopard" OS 10.5
Maybe we just got spoiled by the iPod and iPhone, but the glow came off Steve Job's halo after this feline fleabag debuted. Within days of its release last October, Mac users reported dozens of problems with the new OS, some more serious than others.
Among the many: Wireless connections that slowly petered away, administrative logins that mysteriously disappeared, and a disturbing tendency to nuke data when moving it between two drives if the connection is interrupted.
Worse, a security bug that was fixed in OS 10.4 in March 2006 resurfaced in Leopard, according to Symantec. The Apple Mail vulnerability allows malicious attachments to execute code. German security researchers discovered that Leopard came with its firewall turned off, leaving users vulnerable to attack. Adding insult to injury, some upgraders even reported a Windows-like Blue Screen of Death when upgrading from previous Mac OSs.
In mid-November, Apple released an update to Leopard that fixed some of the bugs, including the firewall glitch. Repairing Apple's reputation, however, may take slightly longer.
#7. Cannot be Completed as Dialed: Voice Over IP
Here's a recipe for disaster: Have the market leader in your industry sued by three of the biggest telecom companies on the planet. Have second-tier players go belly up overnight, leaving thousands of business customers without any phone service. Add in a healthy dose of security vulnerabilities, and bake at 450 degrees until crispy.
Any way you slice it, 2007 was a crappy year for VoIP. Vonage spent most of the year fighting off patent infringement suits from Verizon, Sprint Nextel, and AT&T. (It has tentatively settled with all three, but not before agreeing to fork out payments of $39 million to $120 million apiece.) SunRocket simply disappeared last summer, leaving thousands of customers in the lurch.
Oh and by the way, your VoIP line may be bugged.
In November a UK-based security researcher released SIPtap, a proof-of-concept exploit that allows remote users to tap into and record voice streams
Please contact your regional phone monopoly for service, and dial again.
Un-Neutral: The Broadband Industry
Remember those halycon days when you paid $40 to $60 a month for "unlimited" broadband service and it actually was unlimited? Kiss those days goodbye. In 2007 we learned that some of the largest ISPs in the country--Comcast, Cox, Qwest, Cablevision, and Charter among them--throttle or otherwise interfere with BitTorrent traffic on the sly. Comcast denied it at first, then admitted to "traffic shaping" to discourage bandwidth-sucking peer-to-peer users. Now it's being sued by angry customers. Suddenly the whole Net Neutrality argument doesn't seem like such a bad idea.
Meanwhile, all the major telecom providers who blithely handed their bitstreams over to the NSA without a subpoena are now demanding retroactive immunity for the deed. Whose bits are they, anyway?