Triumph and tribulation: a look back at 2012

By Stuart Sumner
13 Dec 2012 View Comments
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“As for constantly reloading the main page, that’s rather last-millennial tech! It is also extraordinarily slow. While I appreciate you’ve based on a pre-existing system, dare I say that the pre-existing system is a bit poor and you’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.”

Further reading

Enterprise

Among the many acquisitions and technology IPOs this year, the story that really stood out concerned the decision by HP CEO Meg Whitman to call in the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the US to investigate accounting practices at intelligent-search software vendor Autonomy.

HP bought the UK-based software firm in late 2011, paying £7bn. HP recently took a massive £3.2bn write-down on the acquisition due to alleged accounting irregularities. Whitman has vowed to pursue compensation for HP through the civil courts.

“HP now believes that Autonomy’s former management mis-stated Autonomy’s financial performance, including its revenue, core growth rate and growth margins, as well as misrepresenting its business mix,” said Whitman.

“There appears to have been a wilful effort on behalf of certain former Autonomy employees to inflate the underlying financial metrics of the company in order to mislead investors and potential buyers,” she added.

Some commentators have pointed to the £7bn that HP paid for Autonomy as evidence of a lack of due diligence on HP’s part, with many claiming at the time that it didn’t represent value for money.

Mobile

The big mobile stories this year surrounded Apple’s long-running legal dispute with Samsung, and Microsoft’s release of Windows Phone 8.

In August, Apple was awarded £665m in damages in its patent infringement case against Samsung, in which it claimed that its rival smartphone manufacturer had copied several patents relating to its iPhone series. The verdict drew criticism in part for the role played by the jury foreman, Velvin Hogan. Samsung argued that a mistrial should be called because Hogan failed to disclose relevant lawsuits he had been involved in, and had misled the rest of the jury in their deliberations.

Hogan, in pre-trial vetting, did not disclose a court case he was involved in with a former employer, Seagate Technology, which led to his filing for personal bankruptcy six months later. The filing implies, but does not explicitly state, that Hogan sought not to disclose that dispute because Samsung is Seagate’s largest shareholder and, hence, wanted to punish Samsung.

The original verdict included a sales ban on Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1, which was subsequently overturned in October.

Microsoft launched Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and its Surface tablet in October. The OS, which runs in various versions across PCs, tablets and smartphones, features a tile-based UI originally dubbed “Metro” but then rebranded as “Modern” following a

A survey in late November from NetApplications indicated that only one per cent of UK computers were running Windows 8, suggesting a slower uptake than Windows 7, which was launched in 2009. However, Tami Reller, finance and marketing head of the Windows business, said early sales of the OS were way ahead of those of its predecessor.

Reller was named as one of two executives to take over responsibility of the Windows business following the abrupt departure of Steven Sinofsky, who had been credited with leading the development of both Windows 8 and the Microsoft Surface tablet computer.

In an announcement that seemed to confirm Reller’s bullish comments about Windows 8, Erik Dithmer, vice president of end user computing at hardware vendor Dell, recently said sales of high-end, touchscreen PCs running Windows 8 were running “well above forecast”.

So what will make the headlines next year? Join us in January when we will be looking forward to what 2013 has in store.

@StuartSumner

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