6. Japan devastated by massive earthquake
The March 11 earthquake in Japan, the biggest in its history, took its toll on the country's electronics industry. The earthquake constrained the supply of raw materials and components such as NAND flash memory, microcontrollers and LCD parts. Prices soared after the earthquake and subsequent tsunami, which damaged facilities belonging to Sony, Freescale, Fujitsu, Texas Instruments, and other companies. Floods in Thailand in the second half of the year made it a one-two punch for the PC and component markets. After expanding about 30 percent in 2010, global semiconductor revenue will squeeze out barely a 1 percent increase this year, with sales of DRAM, SRAM, and NOR Flash memory expected to decline 15 percent or more, according to analysts.
7. The HP Follies: Apotheker's bungled restructuring
Barely a year into his tenure as Hewlett-Packard CEO, Leo Apotheker was ousted in September soon after announcing that the company would seek to spin off its $40 billion PC business, the largest in the world. Apotheker, who had been fired from SAP in February after the ERP maker fumbled its move to cloud technology, had little experience with hardware. Apotheker himself took up the reins at HP after the ouster of Mark Hurd, who resigned following an investigation into claims of sexual harrassment. After initially declaring that HP would go through with Apotheker's plan to sell the PC unit, newly appointed CEO Meg Whitman, the former chief executive at eBay, decided to hang on to it. HP now says PCs are key to long-term relationships with customers. The company faces other challenges. Net earnings for HP in its fourth quarter were $200 million, down from $2.5 billion in the same period last year, and Whitman herself said that Apple would probably overtake HP in the PC market next year, if iPad sales are included.
8. ICANN hands out last IPv4 addresses, sets clock ticking for IPv6
In February, the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority), operated by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, handed out its last IPv4 addresses, allocating the final five blocks of 16 million addresses to each of five regional Internet registries. The imminent depletion of IPv4, which provided 4.3 billion addresses, is a sign of how quickly the Internet has grown, and it puts pressure on ISPs and companies to switch to its successor, IPv6. Though some regions might not exhaust their supply of IPv4 addresses for several years, Internet communications could break down over time unless network managers migrate to IPv6, which allows for better security, better network management and what's thought to be an inexhaustible supply of addresses. IPv6-based hosts will not be able to communicate with IPv4-only systems without techniques that could impair Internet communications.