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10 Best Tricks, Worst Treats In 2012 Tech

Trick
Facebook(FB - Get Report) IPO and Zynga(ZNGA)

No, Facebook isn't exactly setting the financial world on fire. No, its stock isn't living up to even the most modest of expectations. No, investors didn't think it was going to have this much trouble monetizing a service everybody seemed to use.

But how do you prop up all that promise with a foundation of social media games that now only somewhat entertain their players while annoying the living hell out of "friends" whose status updates are flooded with FarmVille detritus? More importantly, how does the company making that game shoulder so much of the blame for Facebook's shortcomings that it gets called out in the earnings call and is forced to scrap games and lay off workers?

The value of Facebook's shares have dropped more than 42% since their initial public offering in May. Zynga's shares have dropped more than 68% over the same span. It's hard to tell who's leading this dance of death, but increasingly silent status updates and fallow FarmVille fields suggest it's going to end badly for both.

Trick
Best Buy (BBY)

Remember all those vacant big box stores with the giant red dots on the front that Circuit City left behind after it went out of business in 2009? Best Buy apparently thinks it's still competing with them.

The electronics chain already closed 50 stores this year, laid off 2,400 of its Geek Squad employees and got the big-brain idea that Best Buy Mobile stores in malls would be a better way to go. Malls? Really? Are we going to meet Damone down by the multiplex so he can score with Jennifer Jason Leigh? Are they going to hire Jay and Silent Bob as security and see if Ben Affleck will leave his job at Fashionable Male to work the counter?

Maybe Best Buy should just invest in plutonium and old Deloreans and going back to 1985's tech market. It has to be a better option than the current course, which has seen the company report earnings declines in the past two quarters, warn that third-quarter earnings will be "significantly below the prior-year period" and clean out the management ranks under new CEO Hubert Joly to promote Best Buy Mobile folks. Best Buy can flee to the malls if it wants to, but considering much of the pressure on its sales is coming from online retailers such as Amazon, the mall strategy may render it about as relevant as Chess King by next holiday season.

Trick
Tech in the courtroom

Listen, we understand the importance of intellectual property rights in a sector as competitive and complex as tech, but come on.

Google was snarling at Microsoft (MSFT) and Nokia (NOK) this year while locking horns with Oracle (ORCL), Yahoo! (YHOO) sued Facebook and, at one point, Apple was suing Motorola, Samsung and HTC at the same time, with the other three countersuing in return. Patent infringement is no small matter and there are billions of dollars at stake, but the frequency and ubiquity of these lawsuits just makes an already cynical public wonder how many suits are rooted in corporate espionage and malfeasance and how many are being fought in the courtroom just so they won't have play out in stores.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/notteham.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.
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