The 5 biggest tech fails of 2014

In the tech world, we can’t all be winners all the time. 2014 saw some rather spectacular failures. Here are our top (bottom?) five:

5. Google’s Barge

Remember the barge? This time last year, Silicon Valley was abuzz over just what Google planned for its mysterious barge floating off Treasure Island (and another in Portland, Maine). It would be a “visually stunning” mobile exhibition hall for cutting-edge technology, some touted, a floating showroom that would wow consumers. Alas, it was not to be. Turns out it was just a huge floating fire hazard. The barge was quietly towed to the Port of Stockton in March, where it still sits, most likely to eventually share the fate of its sister barge in Maine, which was sold for scrap in August.

4. U2 and iTunes

Who knew so many people didn’t want free music? Apple and U2 no doubt thought they were being awesome when they gave  iTunes users — a half-billion of them worldwide — U2’s new album for free  following the unveiling of the Apple Watch and iPhone 6 in September. Turns out, people are pretty protective of their playlists, and didn’t appreciate Apple sneaking in the back door and delivering the album whether they wanted it or not. And many decidedly did not. As the rattle and hum grew to an uproar, U2 lead singer Bono had to offer a public apology for having the gall to give us his music.

3. Amazon Fire smartphone

What if they made a smartphone and no one bought it? That was pretty much the situation Amazon faced in 2014. The Fire was released in June, to largely positive reviews. But faced with a brutally competitive market dominated by Apple and Samsung, Amazon’s offering never gained traction, even after quickly (and significantly) dropping the price. The Seattle company ended up taking a $170 million hit for its unsold phones. On a positive note, 1,000 unsold phones were to be donated to West Africa, loaded with a health app intended to slow the spread of Ebola. (Fun fact: I actually know someone who bought a Fire phone. He lives in Seattle, of course.)

2. Uber

Uber. Oh, Uber. At some point you started feeling sorry for the San Francisco company, until you remembered how awful they were behaving. From regulatory slap-downs around the world to anti-Uber protests to tone-deaf public relations to dangerous drivers to lawsuits, Uber made headlines in 2014 for all the wrong reasons. Oh, there was also the alleged sabotage of their rivals, suggestions of dirty tricks against their critics, and CEO Travis Kalanick capped the year by getting indicted in South Korea. On the bright side, Uber did NOT help spread Ebola or help ISIS, so it could have been worse. And on the even brighter side, the company is valued at $40 billion, so apparently they’re doing something right.

1. Online security

Quick show of hands: Who here was affected by a hack or data breach this year? Yep, pretty much everyone. Online security seems to get worse each year, and 2014 was a doozy. Data breaches exposed personal information for millions of customers at eBay (145 million accounts affected),  JP Morgan (76 million) and Home Depot (56 million). Homeland Security and the U.S. Postal Service were hit, nude celebrity photos were stolen from Apple’s iCloud, Snapchat photos and videos from third-party backups were stolen and posted on 4chan, and Target continued to feel the effects of its disastrous 2013 hack. At the top of the heap, a massive hack at Sony Pictures in November had enormous repercussions, ranging from embarrassed executives to insulted actors to ramped-up tensions with North Korea over the film “The Interview.” All of which served to remind us that our personal data is nowhere near as secure as we’d like it to be.


At top: Apple CEO Tim Cook and U2’s Bono weren’t smiling for long after launching U2’s new album on everyone’s iTunes accounts in September.  (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)


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    Have we seen any convictions or even actual suspects arrested in these “hacks”? Most of them are “false flag events” designed by our own government to get the people to support even more intrusion into their lives and less freedom!