Netflix's short-lived plan to split itself into two services didn't go over so well this year. Qwikster?
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Netflix's short-lived plan to split itself into two services didn't go over so well this year. Qwikster?

Story highlights

The highs were high but the lows were lower in the tech world in 2011

U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner makes our top 10 list for using Twitter to send lewd photos

PlayStation outage, "Duke Nukem Forever" and failed tablets also made the cut

It was a rough year for RIM and its BlackBerry, with a handful of "fails"

CNN —  

Can’t win ‘em all, can you?

The highs were pretty high in the tech world in 2011, as new gadgets, updates and advances delighted the masses. I mean, Facebook made a change that most people (so far) seemed to actually like. What are the odds?

But the lows were lower. For every moment of digital bliss, it seemed, there was a clunker of equal or greater magnitude.

So, who are we to not rub salt in the wounds of those who got it oh-so-wrong this year?

In fairness, some of these “Doh!” moments came from folks who had otherwise good years. And nobody, not even perennial tech darling Apple, is perfect. (One hard-working journalist even had to write this very story twice after he accidentally deleted it and was forced to start over. Sweet, sweet irony.).

Sure, tech successes are nice. But these social-media miscues, foot-in-mouth e-moves and other digital duds gave us more to talk about in 2011.

Here are our 2011 “Tech Fails of the Year.” Feel free to jump in the comments and let us know what we missed.

Weiner on Twitter

In a crowded and competitive field, former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner grabs our “What Were You Thinking?” award for this one.

The congressman (we’re staying away from name jokes because … well … too easy) was being talked up as possibly the next mayor of New York City when his Twitter account was apparently hacked by someone who sent lewd photos to some of his female followers. That’s the story Weiner gave, anyway.

Except, as it turned out, that someone was him.

Many of us gave Weiner the benefit of the doubt in the scandal’s opening hours. I mean, what public official would be dumb enough to get raunchy on a platform like Twitter, where anyone who wants to can follow your every tweet?

Turns out …

He wasn’t alone. Comedian Gilbert Gottfried tweeted jokes about the Japan tsunami and earthquake that killed more than 15,000 people. Actor and Twitter pioneer Ashton Kutcher posted a hasty tweet defending Penn State coach Joe Paterno – before, he says, learning the full extent of the school’s child-sex scandal. The resulting backlash even led him to quit Twitter, at least temporarily.

But for so badly misunderstanding the public nature of Twitter, for the whirlwind of lies that followed before he fessed up and resigned and … yes … for thinking women like it when you send them closeup pictures of your crotch on the Internet, Weiner earns this bulging “Fail.”

Go Daddy’s SOPA misstep

When the vast majority of the Web’s most active players are against something, and when your livelihood depends on the Web’s most active players, it’s probably best to either go along or keep quiet about it, right?

Not so for Go Daddy, the Web registrar and hosting company known for its titillating TV ads. In December, the company made the ill-fated decision to come out in support of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

Google, Yahoo and Facebook are just some of the Internet heavyweights that have lined up to stop the proposed federal law, which would penalize websites that host pirated content. The bill has come under fire from Web-freedom advocates, who say it could dampen online expression.

Go Daddy, which had submitted testimony to Congress in support of the bill, issued a public statement supporting it – even doubling down with a stronger statement when the Web backlash began.

Fast forward 24 hours and the company – which had already earned ire in some quarters for its racy (some might say sexist) TV commercials and its founder’s penchant for elephant hunting – changed its mind amid a rash of defections.

Tens of thousands of domains, including more than 50 owned by Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales, were moved from Go Daddy, and that’s before a Reddit-organized boycott planned for Friday. Oops.

’Duke Nukem Forever’

When video gamers wait 14 years for a follow-up to one of their favorite titles, they sort of expect it not to suck. In the minds of many, “Duke Nukem Forever” failed that important test.

Longtime gamers waited 14 years for "Duke Nukem Forever." Many would have been happy to wait longer.
Longtime gamers waited 14 years for "Duke Nukem Forever." Many would have been happy to wait longer.

First announced in 1997, “Forever” was to be a follow-up to a game that got lots of love for good-heartedly pushing the boundaries of sex, violence and naughty language in the emerging field of shooter games.

It was delayed. And delayed. And delayed. What finally emerged in June hit with a thud.

“At best, it can look a few years out of date; at worst, it is a blurry, stuttering mess,” wrote CNN’s Ravi Hiranand, in what actually was one of the kinder reviews of the game “Playing the game feels like being thrown back into the mid-’90s, and not in a happy, nostalgic sense.”

In a post-“Grand Theft Auto” world, maybe waiting “forever” would have been a better idea after all.

The other tablets

As 2011 dawned, it appeared that Apple had created a thriving new space in personal computing with its iPad.

Beginning in January at the Consumer Electronics Show, a host of competing companies stepped forward with their rival tablets. The Motorola Xoom. BlackBerry’s PlayBook. Samsung Galaxy Tab. The HP TouchPad.

One problem: Nobody bought them.

Most of the new tablets, many running Google’s Android operating system, came in at roughly $500 – about the same price as Apple’s new iPad 2. And the public showed that at that price, they were happy going with the industry leader.

Some tablets got pulled. Others never made it off the production line. HP had some luck selling TouchPads – after throwing up its hands and slashing prices to fire-sale levels.

One exception. Amazon may have cracked the code late in the year with its Kindle Fire, a smaller, simpler tablet that, at $199, is $300 cheaper than the least-expensive iPad 2.