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Feel the burn: in the aftermath of year's biggest hype

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Why try harder when you're number six?

Hewlett Packard (HP) turned round what started out as a pretty unpromising year with charges of pretexting dropped by the California courts.

This reverse of fortunes did not stop HP from embarrassing itself elsewhere. First, in April, HP proclaimed the death of IT and heralded the new age of "business technology" - or BT. Industry was not roused by this call to action.

Then, plucked from the "nebulous statements" folder, came a short-lived claim HP is the world's sixth-largest software company, as HP tried to prove it is serious about software.

For most developers, HP means one thing: a reliable PC. No wonder the claims produced this reaction, and HP's claims were quickly filed into a new place: the corporate memory hole.

HP's statements had accompanied a flurry of acquisitions with HP buying Opsware, SPI Dynamics, Bristol Technology, and Peregrine. Like BEA Systems chief executive Alfred Chuang, though, we're still waiting for HP to buy BEA for $21 a share after Oracle passed.

Software waiting to get serviced

The other main software story of 2007 was the successful rise of software as a service (SaaS). Companies such as salesforce.com and Opsource showed the SaaS model can work and the release of a GPL licence to cover SaaS operations confirmed its growing role.

More significant, however, were those that failed to make it to the SaaS party. SAP talked big: equating its planned A1S service with a "concept car", while also promising to deliver the service at the beginning of the year.

As the year ground on, the only thing that came from SAP was more teasing through slideware, talk of trials with about 20 companies, and the grand unveiling of a new name - Business ByDesign.

After four years, 2007 produced more promises from SAP, a heap of speculation from SAP followers, but no new hosted service.

Microsoft's Steve Ballmer got all "pumped up" and predicted a "real snowball effect" in relation to Microsoft's Dynamics CRM 4.0, which would include the hosted version called Dynamics CRM Live. "We're pushing the transformation to SaaS as fast as anyone around," he said.

Generally, Microsoft made plenty of noise but produced nothing of substance until the dying days of 2007 when it - finally - released to manufacturing that long-awaited Dynamics CRM 4.0 with Dynamics CRM Live. Over to you SAP.

Nobody likes a smartarse... bitch

The most tragic fall from grace in 2007 was, of course, the 23-year-old CEO and co-founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. Having generously taken scads of cash from middle age VCs and tech companies, wooed brands like Coca-Cola all eager to suck up to kids, and got developers downloading Facebook APIs like crazy, the balloon deflated in spectacular fashion.

Not only were his various schemes to accumulate users' personal data exposed and the original idea behind Beacon abandoned, but details about his dealings with the Winkelvoss brothers were posted on the web for all to see.

All this barely weeks after Zuckerberg ushered in nothing less than the next 100 years in advertising with Beacon. Funny, but somebody else once talked about a new era, only that one was supposed last 1,000 years.®

Additional reporting by Gavin Clarke.

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