In Pictures: 2012 Tech industry graveyard

Apple, Cisco, Microsoft and Google among those bidding farewell to products

  • As 2012 winds down, it’s once again time to pay respects to technology companies, products, concepts and more that have died off this year, some mercifully. For companies such as Apple and Google, despite losing some of their loved ones, there remain plenty of others that are full of life.

  • Cisco Cius enterprise tablet computer Cisco in June acknowledged it was killing of its Android-based Cius business tablet less than a year after it started shipping. Cisco never said the device would be an iPad killer, but the huge trend toward bring your own device to work buried the Cius, as employees at Cisco and elsewhere did bring their Apple iPads and other tablets to work, negating the need for the Cius. In retrospect, Cisco CEO John Chambers said the company should have killed off Cius 9 months earlier.

  • Apple Ping, MobileMe and iWork It’s true: Not every Apple offering is a hit. Apple aced its Ping social networking service for music, which debuted in iTunes 10 in 2010, on Sept. 30, 2012. The service had some supporters, but its lack of integration with more popular social sites and its sketchy recommendation engine didn’t help. Apple also ditched its $99-a-year MobileMe sync and storage service this year, urging customers to switch to iCloud from MobileMe, which got off to a rough start with outages and poor synching. Apple’s iWork sharing service suffered the same fate, with users urged to shift to iCloud.

  • Motorola Mobility Webtop Webtop software enabled Motorola phones like the Atrix 4G to act like small laptops when installed into a special dock. Motorola Mobility told CNET that it wasn’t investing any more resources into its self-described “revolutionary” technology, which didn’t work as well as touted and never drummed up enough demand. What’s more, Motorola says some of the functionality was increasingly showing up in other technologies, including the Android OS itself. Newer Android phones such as Photon Q and Droid Razr Maxx HD, won’t include Webtop software.

  • Google Postini Postini users will have to convert to Google Apps by 2013 or lose access to their email archiving and security features, Google announced over the summer. Google Message Security and Message Discovery will be replaced by Google Apps for Business and Apps Vault, while Google Message Filtering and Postini Small Business Edition will simply no longer be offered. "Over the past four years, Google has integrated the Postini business, including products, processes and personnel into our Enterprise division. This integration is moving into the next phase where new products and features developed on Google Apps platform replace the original Postini products. Postini customers can receive similar email security and archiving features, but on a more robust platform," said Google.

  • Sprint iDen Network Technically, the narrowband iDen network Sprint obtained via its 2005 Nextel merger and based on Motorola technology is still kicking in 2012, but Sprint has given an end-of-life notice. The network, which supports the old push-to-talk-service but is super slow compared to today’s speedy networks, will shut down by June 30, 2013 so that Sprint can relieve itself of paying to operate two separate networks. Onward to CDMA and LTE!

  • Windows Live Not sure if this is an oxymoron or what, but Windows Live is dead. Microsoft officially killed off this online products and services brand introduced in 2005 for a seemingly random collection of syncing services, management tools, mail and more. Products such as Windows Live Search and Windows Live Hotmail have morphed into Bing and Hotmail, for example.

  • MSNBC Microsoft and NBC split up in 2012 after starting their news venture 16 years ago and turning it into one of the most heavily trafficked news sites on the Web. Microsoft wants to build its own online news service, so sold its 50% stake in MSNBC to NBCUniversal, and NBC is heading back to New York from Redmond. MSNBC is being rebranded as NBCNews. Meanwhile, Microsoft plans to launch its multimillion dollar news service as Windows 8 rolls out this month.

  • SOPA The Stop Online Privacy Act was a bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (Rep.-Texas) in the fall of 2011, but yanked by Smith in January of 2012 in the face of major opposition, including from highly-trafficked websites such as Reddit and Wikipedia, which blacked out their sites on Jan. 18 to protest the legislation. Proponents say SOPA would protect intellectual property rights, but opponents argued it would limit free speech, invade privacy and stymie creativity.

  • Juniper Peribit WAN optimizers Juniper’s announcement that it was partnering with one-time WAN optimization rival Riverbed Technologies spelled the end of development of Juniper products borne of its $337 million acquisition of Peribit Networks in 2005. Riverbed is offering a trade-in program to users of Juniper's WX and WXC series acceleration appliances, providing them with Riverbed Steelhead devices instead.

  • Sprint/LightSquared deal Sprint Nextel in March ended its 15-year spectrum-hosting agreement with LightSquared, a big blow at a time that FCC was seeking to shut down the would-be whole mobile provider’s controversial national LTE network due to concerns about it interfering with GPS receivers. The bankrupt LightSquared has since sought other ways to gain spectrum, including from weather balloons.

  • Verizon Naked DSL Verizon in May stopped offering so-called "naked DSL" -- high-speed Internet without landline phone service -- in a move that flies in the face of the trend of consumers ditching their home phones for mobile handsets. Slightly more than 10% of Verizon's DSL subscribers used the standalone service, but starting May 6, customers were no longer able to sign up for DSL without also getting a wired voice service, which adds about $5 to the monthly bill before taxes. Existing users can retain their service as long as they don’t make changes to their plans.

  • Megaupload The notorious file sharing and viewing site was shut down in January by the U.S. Justice Department following the indictment and arrests of its owners for allegedly running an international piracy operation involving oodles of copyrighted works and with assets worth $40M-plus. The shutdown led to a series of denial-of-service attacks against U.S. government websites. Megaupload and other sites were operated out of Hong Kong, and company founder Kim Dotcom, who lives in New Zealand, remains a wanted man by U.S. authorities.

  • Microsoft Metro Microsoft ditched the Metro name for its square-tiled interface for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 7.x , claiming it was only meant to be a code name … although speculation is that the company was forced to abandon it due to trademark issues.

  • Google Picnik This death isn’t so straightforward. The photo-editing and sharing site was acquired in 2010 for an undisclosed amount by Google, which shut down the operation as a separate entity as of April 19. But Picnik’s tools live on in Creative Kit in Google+.

  • Adobe Flash for Android Adobe Systems announced in June it would officially be discontinuing Flash Player support for Google Android after Version 4.0. So no certified Flash for Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) and beyond. This followed Adobe’s announcement last year that it would curtail future releases of browser-based Flash Players for mobile devices. The company is switching its focus to native apps and HTML5.

  • Microsoft MIX event Microsoft killed off its annual spring show for developers and designers, and instead merged aspects of it into another developer conference, presumably its October BUILD show (which in turn replaced the old Professional Developers’ Conference). Microsoft says Mix was conceived in 2005 at a time when IE6 was on the way and the company needed to hone its Web focus. But things have changed: “The notion that the ‘web community’ is somehow separate and distinct from the community of developers we care about no longer makes any sense.” Plus, Microsoft found developers confused about which of its developer shows to attend.

  • Oink This social rating app from Milk, the startup lab from Digg founder Kevin Rose, shut down in March after an initial wave of interest upon its November 2011 launch. Shortly after Oink’s demise was revealed, Milk itself was gobbled up by Google, which sought Rose & Co.’s expertise to help boost the fortunes of its Google+ social networking site.

  • Harris hosted cloud service Harris Corp., in February said it had pulled out of its off-premise remote hosting business because of lack of adoption from customers. The international provider of communications and IT services last year opened a 100,000-square-foot data center in Virginia with the goal of hosting data for government, health care and financial industry customers, but this year announced plans to close the facility and sell the data center.

  • Amazon Kindle DX Amazon has quietly discontinued its Kindle DX, a big ol' 9.7-inch pricey ($380) e-reader aimed at the academic market that never caught on like the 6-inch models during its three years on the market. Meanwhile, Amazon moves forward with its Paperwhite e-readers and for those looking for a bigger device, the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD.

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