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7/1/2009
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Biggest Blunders Of 2009 -- So Far

Before we pack up our laptops, Blackberrys, and various chargers for the holiday weekend, let's take a moment to reflect on what has come to pass over the last six months.

Before we pack up our laptops, Blackberrys, and various chargers for the holiday weekend, let's take a moment to reflect on what has come to pass over the last six months.Rather than focus on any accomplishments, I'm going straight for the dregs -- the better to avoid repeating them in the summer and fall. Also, its more fun.

In January Indian outsourcer rocked the IT world when it announced an accounting scandal so massive that observers took to calling the company "India's Enron." Satyam founder and chairman B. Ramalinga Ramu admitted in a five-page resignation letter that the company had been artificially enhancing its financial statements for years. As of July 1st, Satyam is still in acquisition talks.




GM and Segway's electric, two-seat prototype vehicle is intended for urban use.
(click for image gallery)
As far as business disasters go, there is none larger than GM's bankruptcy. But let's not overlook the company's bizarre announcement in April. GM said it had partnered with electric scooter-maker Segway on a 2-person sit-down Segway with a cover on it. Codename: Project P.U.M.A. The photos tell you all you need to know about this misbegotten vehicle.

The realm of the misbegotten would be incompletely covered if I failed to mention Microsoft's vomitrocious ad campagin for its IE8 Web browser. Not even still-handsome, former TV Superman, Dean Cain can redeem the Microsoft ad with the graphic projectile vomiting. Click if you must. You have been warned about the barfing.

One mess we've seen over and over has come from an unlikely source. Apple's App Store approval policy has been maddeningly inconsistent, at once blocking a Nine Inch Nails iPhone application that streams what Apple has termed "objectionable content," while selling a version of that very same "objectionable content" in its iTunes store. Then it reversed itself and OK'd the app.

Then there was the app called Baby Shaker, which allowed users to silence a picture of crying baby -- forever -- by shaking the device. Classy, no? The company reversed itself, called the app "deeply offensive," and pulled it, but continued getting hammered by critics anyway.

Apple doesn't have a monopoly on flawed judgment. In March Facebook rolled out a redesign that had users howling. One million of them signed a petition demanding that Zuckerberg hit the Undo button. In February, tweaks to its terms of service caused another kerfuffle among irritated Friends.

But enough about Facebook, because just last week, when we thought Apple's app-approval policies had finally found more consistent footing, the company went and approved the "Hottest Girls" app which features bare-breasted women -- or as the app's developer's describe them, "girls." Days later it was Victorian-era rules again and "Hottest Girls" was banished from the App Store.

Finally, last week, a jury in a Minnesota federal court upheld a guilty verdict against music file downloader Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a self-described mom with "limited means," and said she was liable for $80,000 per song, or $1.92 million. The plaintiff in the case, the seemingly rabid Recording Industry Association of America, initiated more than 30,000 lawsuits against people it claimed had illegally downloaded music. Most of them settled for $3,500.

To quote @marklisanti from Twitter: "If Bernie Madoff had ripped off the RIAA, his sentence would have been 150 million years."

Here's to the next six months of hard work and innovation.

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