The worst IT disasters of 2009

There were a lot of high points in tech this year, but some pretty big screw ups, too. Here are our top 10 IT failures of the year.

Sony Ericsson's touchscreen, 12 megapixel camera handset should have been the manufacturer's weapon for taking the fight to Apple, Android and BlackBerry. Instead the phone suffered unusually high rates of failure, caused by software glitches.

The Times described the Satio as "the worst Sony Ericsson ever" and both Carphone Warehouse and Phones4U withdrew the phone from sale. Meanwhile, Sony Ericsson is pinning its hopes on the Android-based X2, due for launch next year.

The National Prison Service's C-NOMIS system

Government IT projects have come in for their share of criticism over the year, but few have performed as badly as C-NOMIS.

The project an attempt to create a single database for the prison and probation services started in 2004. It is not now expected to be finished until 2011, at three times the original cost.

Last month, the MPs called the project a shambles, with Public Accounts Committee chairman Edward Leigh saying: "This Committee has become inured to the dismal procession of government IT failures which have passed before us; but even we were surprised by the extent of the failure of C-NOMIS".

The ID card and government data breaches

As of last month, the National ID card database held just 538 names. A year after foreign students were issued with ID cards and after considerable expense it seems that just one foreigner, an EU citizen, is listed on the system.

It might not matter, of course, if there is a change of government next year. The Conservative leader David Cameron pledged to scrap the scheme, which he has called a "vast white elephant".

Meanwhile a continuing stream of data leaks and breaches at government departments and agencies provided ammunition to those who believe a single database holding all citizens' details is A Bad Thing see our story Government accused of lacking basic data policies.

The NHS National Programme for IT

It's not a failure yet but towards the end of the year rumours grew that the 12.6bn programme to overhaul the NHS' IT systems could be cut back. In December Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling described the project as "not essential to the front line".

The project is already four years late, and has led to the resignation of contractors including Accenture and Fujitsu. Given its scale, if the NPfIT is cut or trimmed back, it will surely represent one of the largest ever IT failures.

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