Slideshow

2010 tech industry graveyard

An ongoing list of IT companies, technologies and ideas killed off or headed for the end of life (with maybe an occasional one that comes back to life).

  • Internet Explorer 6 OK, Microsoft says it will continue to support IE6 until April 2014, but this is going to be one long goodbye. Google says it will stop supporting IE6 in Gmail and Calendar services in the wake of a big Google break-in enabled at least in part through IE6 flaws. A Web design firm in Denver even announced plans to hold a mock funeral for IE6 in March (cause of death: workplace injury).
  • Is this any way to treat your kin? Microsoft, after having its much hyped Kin smartphones on the market for just two months, announced in late June it was killing them off. Microsoft emphasized the social networking aspects of the phones, which were targeted at young people. But in the end, here's what it had to say about its decision to kill off the Kin, which reportedly were sold in embarrassingly low numbers: "Microsoft has made the decision to focus on the Windows Phone 7 launch and will not ship KIN in Europe this fall as planned. Additionally, we are integrating our KIN team with the Windows Phone 7 team, incorporating valuable ideas and technologies from KIN into future Windows Phone releases. We will continue to work with Verizon in the U.S. to sell current KIN phones."

  • Lala music service Apple bought the streaming music company in December 2009, leaving many to wonder how it might fit with iTunes. That still isn't entirely clear, but Apple has announced Lala will be silenced as of the end of May 2010, and a Lala iPhone app that had been waiting for approval appears destined for extinction as well. Speculation is that Lala could rise from the grave, though, in the form of new iTune streaming features.
  • Microsoft Courier tablet Microsoft confirmed in April it has canceled further development and production on its tablet project, codenamed Courier, which industry watchers speculated could help drive down costs of Apple's popular iPad. "At any given time, across any of our business groups, there are new ideas being investigated, tested, and incubated. It's in Microsoft's DNA to continually develop and incubate new technologies to foster productivity and creativity," said Frank Shaw, corporate vice president of communications at Microsoft, in a statement. "The 'Courier' project is an example of this type of effort and its technologies will be evaluated for use in future Microsoft offerings." Microsoft has had quite a history with tablets, as you can see in this separate slideshow.
  • Here we pay respects to a slew of companies, technologies (including from Google and Microsoft) and ideas that mainly held lots of promise but met or will soon meet their demise for any number of reasons: being ahead of their time; getting whacked by the economy; being surpassed by something new. A few of the bodies are still warm, and there's even the occasional life-after-death experience.

  • Google announced in July that it was stopping development of the much hyped Google Wave collaboration technology as a standalone product, though did say it would maintain the service throughout 2010. Google has already open-sourced much of the Wave code, so Wave could live on in numerous other projects.

  • Duke University, where the Usenet public messaging system got its start in 1979 as the brainchild of graduate students Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis, pulled the plug on its Usenet server in May, citing feeble usage and increasing costs. Duke initially used the system to communicate with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Here's how Duke announced its move, in part: "On May 20, OIT will be decommissioning Godzilla (godzilla.acpub.duke.edu), an older Solaris login server, and the News Groups server (news.duke.edu) that provides a Usenet news service. The services that were available through Godzilla are now available through the newer, Linux multi-user login servers, login1.oit.duke.edu and login2.oit.duke.edu, and the Usenet services have been made unnecessary by the growing use of blogs, social networking sites and RSS feeds." Usenet, a distributed bulletin board system that was a precursor to much of today's Internet-based communication systems, generated scads of newsgroups, the most popular of which fell under categories such as computers, news and science. Usenet is credited with spawning terms popular in the online world today, such as FAQ and spam. Duke's move follows that of many others cutting their Usenet support, including ISPs such as AOL, Verizon and Cox.

  • EMC said in late June that it was shuttering its Atmos Online cloud storage service, which only lasted about one year. According to a Computerworld report, EMC offered no immediate "guarantee that any current users storing data on it will be able to retrieve it in the future." "As a result, we strongly encourage that you migrate any critical data or production workloads currently served via Atmos Online to one of our partners offering Atmos based services," EMC wrote on its site. Atmos began as a software offering in 2008 and now will serve as a development environment for EMC service provider partners.

  • AT&T in June said it was killing its unlimited wireless data plan, and instead is shifting to usage-based offerings. AT&T announced two new wireless data plans based on the amount of data subscribers use. The change spells the end of unlimited wireless data use for new customers and likely higher charges for existing customers who use more than 2GB of data per month for activities such as watching videos and online gaming. Existing customers can keep the unlimited plans they have, but can switch to the new ones without having to extend their service contracts. Also, after a trail of continuous promises and false starts, the carrier finally will let laptops and other devices use some smartphone models, including the iPhone, on the AT&T network as a broadband connection.

  • Bebo social network Bebo is no Facebook, or MySpace or Twitter or… And two years after spending $850 million to buy Bebo, AOL has acknowledged as much, saying it will either shut down the site or sell it in the face of strong social network industry competition. An AOL exec issued the following memo: "Bebo, unfortunately, is a business that has been declining and, as a result, would require significant investment in order to compete in the competitive social networking space. AOL is not in a position at this time to further fund and support Bebo in pursuing a turnaround in social networking."
  • Red Hat Exchange Launched in 2007 by Red Hat as a sort of Linux apps showcase for third parties, RHX is no more. A Red Hat official told LinuxPlanet in February: "When we came out with RHX we were hoping for more ambitious adoption but we've learned that selling third-party applications via a marketplace is challenging. When you've got marketplaces that offer buyers the choice of buying in the marketplace or directly from the vendor themselves, which is what our marketplace was, there isn't a real efficient marketplace."
  • Xbox Live service for Xbox Original games Microsoft's "Major Nelson" revealed in early February that it would be discontinuing "Xbox Live service for original Xbox consoles and games, including Xbox 1 games playable on Xbox 360" as of April 15. The multiplayer gaming service launched in 2002. Microsoft says it is extending its Xbox Live services in a way that wouldn't be compatible with the older systems.
  • YouTube "Rickrolling" video (but wait!...) Panic spread across the Internet in February when it was discovered that YouTube had spiked the original Rick Astley "Never Gonna Give You Up" video that has become famous as a prank destination for those falling for various online tricks. (You've been "Rickrolled" if you fall prey to one of these.) Alas, YouTube discovered that it had only mistakenly taken down the video, enabling its impact to endure.
  • Supercomm trade show The annual telecom industry gathering, originally slated for October in Chicago, was shelved in February by the TIA and USTelecom after getting weak financial projections for the event. TIA and USTelecom did say they looked forward to "future collaborative efforts."
  • BlackBerry Curve 8900 The BlackBerry Curve 8900, introduced on the T-Mobile network in early 2009 as the thinnest and lightest RIM model to that point, has been given the end-of-life sentence by the carrier. Of course, it will be far from the only mobile device to be discontinued this year given the incredibly rapid pace of smartphone innovation. Other carriers, such as Verizon, are expected to retire phones such as the BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8230.
  • Apache Beehive The Apache Software Foundation's Beehive project, whose goal was "to make J2EE programming easier by building a simple object model on J2EE and Struts," was shifted to the Apache Attic in January. The Attic is where Apache projects go to die when they become inactive. Beehive had its roots in the BEA WebLogic Workshop development tool runtime.
  • Project Wonderland support from Oracle Project Wonderland, a Java-based platform for developing 3-D virtual worlds, announced on Jan. 30 that Oracle was pulling the plug on the Sun project in the wake of Sun's buyout. However, Wonderland's team did say at the time it was hopeful of keeping the project going and launched a blog to let supporters keep up. Wonderland certainly won't be the last Sun project to get terminated once Oracle and Sun become more integrated.
  • Video Web site Veoh Veoh announced in February that it was bankrupt and that its assets would be sold off to repay creditors. Dmitry Shapiro, Veoh's founder and CEO, blamed the company's collapse on a pricey legal battle with Universal Music Group that Veoh ended up winning as well as tough economic conditions. Veoh raised $70 million dollars from investors to deliver TV and other video content on its site.
  • Google Gears Google announced in February that its Gears project, which allowed offline use of Web services, would be discontinued as the company turns its attention to supporting standards like HTML5. For Google, which seemingly launches a new project or two daily, end-of-life (or "retirement") stories are inevitable. The company announced in February on its Gmail blog, for example, that it was retiring a handful of projects/features, including Email addict and Muzzle.
  • Pay your respects (or gossip about the dead). Let us know what you think about the demise of these companies, technologies and Web phenomena.

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