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Google, Microsoft and Yahoo among those reading products their last rites
Industry pundits have at one point or another this year declared the demise of everything from BlackBerry to Nokia and from PCs to anti-virus tools. And while none of those things actually is dead, plenty of others surely are.
Pay your respects please and stroll through the 2013 Tech Industry Graveyard.
Google, which counts about a zillion products among its offerings, also regularly cleans house and kills off numerous programs. The killing that raised the biggest stink this year was that of Google Reader, the RSS reader that the company snuffed in July, resulting in a feeding frenzy among alternative RSS readers.
BlackBerry, Dell, BMC as public companies
No more BBRY, DELL or BMC on Nasdaq. Well, we suppose it’s possible any of these networking companies that have gone private this year could return to the public market, but all have a ton of work to do. (BlackBerry also did away with the Research in Motion name this year.)
This analytical tech/law website started by paralegal Pamela Jones in 2003 shut down in August, with Jones citing the revelations about government snooping as making it impossible to continue a site that relied so heavily on Internet communications with many sources about sensitive subjects. Groklaw often focused on open source software issues and tracked such cases as SCO-IBM, Apple-Samsung and Oracle-Google.
Cloud storage provider Nirvanix
After seven years, this company that pulled in $70 million in venture financing pulled the plug. To customers, the turn of events happened quickly, with Nirvanix giving just a few weeks notice that it was time to get your data the heck off its servers and onto your own on another provider’s.
Windows RT tablets (other than Microsoft Surface 2)
Microsoft’s Windows RT tablet partners have been dropping off one by one, with Dell and Asus among the latest throwing in the towel in 2013 on such ARM-based devices. Microsoft continues to fight the good fight, or at least some kind of fight, and released a new RT tablet, the Surface 2, in September.
Lavabit, Silent Circle encrypted email services
Lavabit was reportedly the encryption-enhanced email service for ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and shut down over the summer citing legal pressure that it could not discuss publicly. Silent Circle, another such service, followed suit shortly afterwards.
AltaVista search engine
Yes, yes, the once novel search engine was actually still alive this year, hiding within the confines of Yahoo. Until Yahoo over the summer obliterated it and a handful of other little-used services such as RSS Alerts and something called Yahoo Neighbors Beta.
Camino browser for Macs
The 10-year-old Camino project came to an end this year, with those behind the effort acknowledging that “Camino is increasingly lagging behind the fast pace of changes on the web, and more importantly it is not receiving security updates, making it increasingly unsafe to use.” The good news: solid alternatives have emerged since Camino came on the scene.
Apple and most of its customers have moved on from the original 2007 iPhone 2G, with seven models being released since then, most recently the iPhone 5s and 5c. Apple in June labeled the original iPhone as “obsolete,” meaning no more repairs or parts from Apple stores.
Yes, you might still have a Hotmail address, but Microsoft at least behind the scenes killed off Hotmail in May, switching over to Outlook.com. Among the new things for Microsoft’s messaging customers this year: SMTP support and deeper integration with SkyDrive cloud storage.
This cross between Fedora and Ubuntu, initially launched in late 2010 and optimized for low-power devices, met its end in April 2013. The decision was made, according to an official blog post, in part because the GNOME 2 desktop environment used by Fuduntu is becoming less well-supported than in the past.
Roadrunner, the first supercomputer to break the once-elusive petaflop barrier — 1 million billion calculations per second — was decommissioned on March 31. The IBM system achieved petaflop speed in 2008, shortly after installation at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The lab’s Gary Grider said at the time that "Even in death, we are trying to learn from Roadrunner,” referring to experiments after the shutoff and before dismantling on topics such as operating system memory compression techniques.
Yahoo T-shirt rewards
Yahoo said in October that it will stop giving T-shirts as a reward for finding security vulnerabilities after a public shaming it's calling "t-shirt gate." The company received a drubbing from the Swiss security company High-Tech Bridge after it found four serious vulnerabilities in Yahoo's network, all of which have now been fixed. Starting Oct. 31, Yahoo will pay rewards ranging from $150 to $15,000 for vulnerabilities provided those flaws are new, unique or high risk. It plans to retroactively reward researchers who notified the company of issues going back to July 1 (Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service).
Juniper over the summer acknowledged killing off this high-profile product for the core of mobile operator networks after combining business units to focus on potential growth opportunities. Juniper end-of-lifed (EOL) its MobileNext mobile packet core product line, software introduced in 2009 as part of “Project Falcon” for its MX edge routers that was designed to enable non-interrupted delivery of high-definition voice and video to users over 2G/3G and LTE mobile networks (via Jim Duffy, Network World).
Nextel iDEN network
Sprint Nextel sent its iDEN push-to-talk network to the grave in June after more than a year of warnings that this would happen. The iDEN system came from Motorola and formed the basis of Nextel's network, which was begun in 1996. The network ran over spectrum from small regional carriers and frequencies for Motorola's two-way radios. The company built a strong business through its push-to-talk feature, which let users talk to each other instantly without having to first answer a ringing phone (Steve Lawson, IDG News Service). Sprint gave Nextel’s name the boot, too.
Don’t be confused, but Google Death was born in 2013. This morbid but useful service, technically called Inactive Account Manager, lets you customize what becomes of your Gmail, Drive, etc., account data when your account goes inactive for whatever reason. You can dictate that data is deleted or distributed to specific contacts.