The tech industry's biggest bozos of 2011

Léo Apotheker, Mark Zuckerberg, Reed Hastings, and the RIM twins are the bozos of the year, along with the iPhone 5 rumormongers

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I'll never confuse a career in tech journalism with that of the priesthood, but we do have our vows, and there's a big one: Thou shalt not have undisclosed conflicts of interest. When Arrington was called on the issue by his new boss (AOL purchased TechCrunch for megabucks), he had a hissy fit and left. Good riddance.

Our next bozo isn't a single person, but the yammering collection of pundits, journalists, and "analysts" who insisted against all precedent and serious evidence that the iPhone 5 would launch this year. We at InfoWorld make our own mistakes, and we're far from perfect, but if you read the Mobile Edge blog, you would have known that Apple wasn't going to break precedent by skipping an interim upgrade, what turned out to be the iPhone 4S. Those blogosphere bozos spend their time reading obscure tea leaves out of the Asian supply chain -- some clearly making it up, complete with Photoshopped images -- and pandering to the voracious appetite of Apple fanboys for any scrap of "news," no matter who thin or how unlikely.

Netflix makes the list, and Zuckerberg returns
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings
doesn't run an IT company in the traditional sense, but so many of us use his company's services and technologies that its jaw-dropping performance this year simply begs to be included. While trying to keep up with the move from DVDs to streaming video, Hastings stumbled and stumbled again by raising prices, then apologizing. Then he split off the part of the company that supplies rental DVDs and renamed it Qwikster, then changed his mind, and yes, apologized yet again.

It's hard to imagine how anyone could destroy the brand equity of a company like Netflix. You'd have to hunt hard to find anyone in this country who didn't know the name, yet Hastings wanted to change it? To Qwikster? The flood of customers cramming the exits was no surprise. What is surprising is that this bozo still has a job.

Speaking of apologies, I had hoped that Facebook CEO Mark "Boy Billionaire" Zuckerberg wouldn't have to apologize yet again this year, but of course he did. As Saul Hansell of the New York Times put it so well, "Mark Zuckerberg has produced a symphony of contrition in a blog post."

There's nothing wrong with an apology, of course, but there is something really wrong with repeating the same bad behavior over and over, then apologizing for it over and over. He's the Boy Billionaire Who Cried Sorry. At this point, if we believed that Facebook wasn't going to trash our privacy for the sake of profits and deals with even less responsible third-party apps makers, we'd be the bozos. But we don't.

Best wishes for a happy and bozo-free New Year!

I welcome your comments, tips, and suggestions. Post them here (Add a comment) so that all our readers can share them, or reach me at bill.snyder@sbcglobal.net. Follow me on Twitter at BSnyderSF.

This article, "The tech industry's biggest bozos of 2011," 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.

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