This Dumb Year: The 57 Lamest Tech Moments of 2010

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18. Sue you, sue me.

Nokia sues Apple over mobile patents.

19. Oh say can you sue?

HTC sues Apple over mobile patents.

20. We’re not nosy. Just incompetent.

After having published a somewhat snippy blog post denying charges that its StreetView cars were picking up sensitive information from Wi-Fi networks they passed, Google discovers that it has indeed been accidentally collecting and storing data from unprotected networks for three years. Strangely enough, the fact it was all unintentional doesn’t pacify everyone.

21. Oh, like grownups who play computer games might have anything to hide.

World of Warcraft and Starcraft maker Blizzard Entertainment announces that members of its forums will henceforth be required to use their real names, in hopes of imposing a higher standard of civility on the conversations there. The company soon backpedals after an angry mob of members begins ferreting out and publishing personal info about a forum moderator who started using his real name–including the fact that he still lives with his mom.

22. This would never happen during a Steve Jobs keynote!

Steve Jobs, master of the flawless product demo, suffers a rare but crippling technical meltdown when he shows the iPhone 4 to an audience of thousands of developers and members of the press. Jobs says that there are 527 MiFi-type mobile routers present and that they’ve brought Apple’s Wi-Fi network to its knees. He pleads with attendees to turn their connections off. Some do; some don’t.

23. Hey, a few weeks is no biggie, right?

When Apple starts taking preorders for the iPhone 4 on June 15th, the black one is available but the white version which Steve Jobs had mentioned at his WWDC keynote is unexpectedly missing in action. Citing unspecified manufacturing challenges, Apple eventually says the white model of the handset has been delayed until the second half of July.

24. We promise it’ll be out before the white iPhone.

21. Plastic Logic’s revised release date of June 24th for its Que e-reader comes and goes. It says it needs “a bit more time” to finish it up.

25. We never talk about unreleased products. Except when we do.

After months of hype for HP’s Windows 7 slate, HP agrees to buy Palm and its WebOS mobile operating system. All of a sudden, the company starts refusing to discuss the Windows slate, or even confirm that it still plans to release it. (It eventually does, but in a business-centric version that’s strikingly different from the consumery gizmo that had debuted at CES.)

26. Highly social twentysomethings apparently didn’t like it any more than jaded tech pundits.

Two months after shipping its Kin phones, Microsoft cancels the line, making it one of the fastest flops in tech history. (It does say it plans to merge unspecified “valuable ideas and technologies” into Windows Phone 7.) Estimates of the total number of Kins sold range from a few hundred to a few thousand.

27. That design issue you noticed is actually a software bug you didn’t notice.

After some iPhone 4 buyers report that touching the phone’s lower left-hand corner leads to dropped calls and other reception issues, Apple says that it’s “stunned” by the discovery of a long-standing bug which leads all iPhones to report overly optimistic signal strength. This response doesn’t do much to mollify unhappy campers.

28. Whiting for Godot.

Apple delays release of the white iPhone again, until an unspecified date later in 2010.

29. Refudiate this!

Former Alaska governor, 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate, best-selling author, and future reality TV star Sarah Palin tweets a request for “Peaceful Muslims” to “refudiate” the “Ground Zero Mosque.”

30. On further thought…

Net neutrality champion Google partners with communications behemoth Verizon to give the FCC helpful net neutrality advice –basically, “keep it for wired broadband but scrap it for wireless”–that prompts industry watchers to throw around phrases such as “carrier-humping, net-neutrality surrender monkey.”

31. If Google had invented e-mail, it would have ceased to exist in 1967.

Fourteen months after it announces its wildly ambitious, innovative, powerful, and confusing Wave communications platform, Google gives up on convincing the world it’s the next big thing and discontinues it.

32. Hurd mentality.

In what’s become a long-standing HP tradition, the tech giant is humiliated yet again by its executive leadership when Chairman and CEO Mark Hurd is forced to resign. The circumstances of his ouster remain fuzzy, but we do know they involve a fifty-year-old ex-Playboy model, softcore porn actresss, and reality-show contestant.

33. Selling like an unspecified number of hotcakes.

Amazon continues its odd tradition of issuing press releases that brag about how well the Kindle e-reader is selling–without ever mentioning numbers. (In December, it finally deigns to say that sales for the quarter are in the “millions.”)

34. Fifty-five year olds who say unsettling things should also be able to change their names, don’t you think?

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Google CEO Eric Schmidt says he believes that young people will one day be allowed to change their names to protect themselves from youthful indiscretions that might otherwise be discovered online. As with about forty percent of Schmidt’s public pronouncements, it’s unclear whether he’s pulling our legs.

35. We’re not killing it. We’re just delaying its release permanently.

Plastic Logic gives up on the idea of releasing the Que e-reader at all, admitting that the market has passed it by. It claims it’ll be back with a “second-generation” version.

36. Sue anything.

Oracle sues Google over Java patents.

37. On a clear day you can sue forever.

Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen sues AOL, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Yahoo, YouTube, and others–but not Microsoft–over an array of patents from his failed Interval Research startup.

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