3. Apple's Scott Forstall
Scott Forstall, senior VP of iPhone software and previous heir apparent to the throne at Apple, was fired in October under the guise of "increasing collaboration across hardware, software, and services." Good riddance. He took deserved flack for Apple's overselling and underdelivering of both Siri -- which proved far less capable than Apple let on -- and Apple Maps, which bombed so badly that CEO Tim Cook had to issue a public apology and point iOS users to such alternatives as MapQuest, Waze, and Microsoft Bing.
Forstall let down Apple and its millions of customers, then refused to apologize as his boss had done. When did Apple start releasing the equivalent of a beta product, especially one as important as the iPhone's operating system?
(I'm not sure who within Apple approved the idea of scrapping the 30-pin connector for the pricey, proprietary Lightning connector, but that too was a spit in the face of users, who will now have to spend extra money on adapters unless they want to throw out a wide variety of accessories.)
4. Rep. Lamar Smith and the clowns in Congress who sponsored SOPA
Smith and other bumbling politicans tried to make into law the Stop Online Privacy Act -- and deserve a foot to the rear for sponsoring a bill that would have done huge damage to the Internet. As InfoWorld's Robert X. Cringely put so well: "The Hollywood/media cartel doesn't care about collateral damage. Remember, the biggest trade groups greasing the wheels on this train wreck are the RIAA, the MPAA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, whose politics are slightly to the right of Mussolini." Fortunately, outraged users and tech companies raised such a ruckus that the bill and its ill-begotten companion legislation died an unlamented death. That still doesn't excuse the bozos who, in the guise of responding to legitimate concerns about protecting intellectual property, created a Frankenstein.
5. Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky
Speaking of Frankenstein, let's hear the razzes for Microsoft's Steve Sinofsky, who made a quick and ungraceful exit as the head of the company's key Windows division in November. We don't know the real reason he got the boot, but the reason he should have been canned was Windows 8, appropriately dubbed "Windows Frankenstein" by my colleague J. Peter Bruzzese. There's plenty of reason to diss Microsoft, but it set the standard for desktop computing for 20 years or so. Problems (there were many, of course) existed in previous versions of Windows, but users all around the world had already worked with the OS and didn't face a major learning curve with each rev. That all changed with Windows 8, an ungainly marriage of a desktop and a smartphone operating system that fulfills neither role very well -- and leaves users baffled.
The bozos that escaped the Top 5
Of course, there were other bozos this year. Runners-up include:
- The International Telecommunications Union, which thought it could impose U.N.-style groupthink on the Internet.
- The management of Research in Motion, which took 10 years (or what felt like 10 years) to launch BlackBerry 10 -- oh wait, it's still at least a month off.
- The geniuses at Nokia (or its ad agency) who faked a demonstration of the Lumia 920.
I could continue, but let's instead move on in the faint hope that 2013 will be a bozo-free year. I doubt it, but I hope you'll nonetheless have a great holiday and a happy new year!
This article, "The top 5 tech bozos of the year," was originally published by InfoWorld.com. Read more of Bill Snyder's Tech's Bottom Line blog and follow the latest technology business developments at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.