Thursday, November 29, 2007

Vonage, Apple make list of top tech train wrecks of 2007

Ben Patterson at includes among the Top 10 Tech Train Wrecks of 2007:


Talk about a slow-motion train wreck. Vonage, the once high-flying VoIP provider with all those clever TV commercials, is facing a mountain of debt, while customers—most of them frustrated by poor customer service—have been steadily defecting. At the center of it all: a pair of court rulings from late 2006 that held Vonage responsible infringing patents owned by Sprint Nextel and Verizon Communications. Vonage has settled all of the infringement charges, including a new set of charges brought by AT&T, but it's still in debt to the tune of $250 million and climbing, according to BusinessWeek, along with more than $200 million in payments now due to Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T. That's pretty bad news when you've only got about $355 million left in your bank account. Whether Vonage survives, gets bought out, or declares bankruptcy is still an open question. Meanwhile, long-suffering Vonage customers are left hanging in the balance (although service is reportedly improving).

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Apple's iPhone:

Steve Jobs never saw it coming. In September, along with announcements of a new family of iPods, Jobs dropped a bombshell: Apple was cutting the price of the 8GB iPhone to $399 (from $599). How generous, right? But early adopters were outraged: just weeks before, they'd paid more than $600 for their precious iPhones, and now here's Sir Steve, essentially telling them they'd wasted a couple of C-notes. Jobs ultimately bowed to the howls of protest, offering a $100 store credit for everyone who had bought an iPhone before the price cut. Then, another stumble: Apple released an iPhone update in October that re-locked (and in some cases, bricked) hacked iPhones, sparking another wave of anger. Jobs has since announced that the iPhone will support third-party apps (which must now be hacked onto the iPhone) starting next year, but the damage is done. All those warm fuzzies for Apple upon the original release of the iPhone? Buh-bye.

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