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5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

For the week ending March 20, CRN looks at IT companies that were unfortunate, unsuccessful or just didn't make good decisions.

 The Week Ending March 20

With the rapid spread of the coronavirus, it’s been a rough week overall for the IT industry with canceled events, disrupted business and economic uncertainty.

Making the “Companies That Had A Rough Week” list this week include Apple and a pair of distributors for facing a charge from French regulators of anti-competitive practices around pricing.

Also making the list are Microsoft for a service outage with its Teams collaboration software, Micro Focus International for facing shareholder blowback for its decision to withhold its regular dividend, Google for canceling the virtual Google Cloud Next ’20 conference that was originally intended to replace the physical conference, and partying students in Florida whose clueless comments about the pandemic caught the attention of Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell.

Not everyone in the IT industry was having a rough go of it this week. For a rundown of companies that made smart decisions, executed savvy strategic moves – or just had good luck – check out this week's Five Companies That Came To Win roundup.



 Apple, Distributors Accused By French Regulators Of Running Price Cartel

A French antitrust agency this week fined Apple and two of its distributors, Tech Data and Ingram Micro, a total of $1.38 billion for allegedly engaging in anti-competitive practices around pricing.

The French Competition Authority accused the companies of agreeing to stick to the same pricing for Apple products other than iPhones, such as iPads, between 2005 and 2013. That resulted was a lack of competition between distributors and the same prices for many Apple products whether sold by a reseller or by Apple itself.

The agency accused Apple of running cartels within its distribution network and abusing the economic dependence of its resellers.

The agency accused Tech Data and Ingram Micro of participating in cartel practices. But solution providers told CRN they saw the distributors as “pawns” that had little choice but to work with Apple.



Microsoft Teams Suffers Outage As Demand Surges

With so many people working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic, this is the time for tools like online collaboration and videoconferencing to shine.

So Microsoft stumbled early this week when its Teams online collaboration software suffered an outage Monday morning starting around 5:00 a.m. (EDT) that primarily impacted customers in Europe, but also in the U.S. and India.

While Microsoft said just before 9:00 a.m. that the problems were resolved, reports of problems continued later into the morning.


Google Postpones its Virtual Conference

Just about every IT industry conference has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic with many companies and organizations planning to hold online “virtual” conferences instead.

So in a somewhat ominous development this week Google announced that it was postponing the Google Cloud Next ’20 virtual conference that it had announced earlier this month as an alternative to the actual conference.

As with the original conference, Google said it was delaying the virtual event because of concerns relating to the pandemic. While the company said it remained committed to holding the virtual event, Google Cloud chief marketing officer Alison Wagonfield said Google would do so “when the timing is right” and that for the moment the company is focused on “supporting our customers, partners and each other.”



Micro Focus Halts Dividend, Faces Shareholder Revolt


In another sign of coronavirus fallout, software giant Micro Focus International said this week that it will not pay a final dividend for its most recent fiscal year, citing economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

According to stories published by Reuters and The Telegraph, the company now faces a shareholder revolt at its annual meeting next week because of the decision.

Influential shareholder advisory group Pirc has recommended that shareholders vote against reappointing CEO Stephen Murdoch and block the company’s executive renumeration policy, according to the Telegraph.


Partying College Students Urged NOT To Apply For Jobs At Dell

And in one final bit of coronavirus pandemic fallout a number of college students who, after ignoring advice to avoid crowds and decided instead to party in Florida during spring break, found themselves the object of much online scorn and derision.

A CBS News video recorded students saying they weren’t worried about the coronavirus – or the fact that their actions could spread the disease – and didn’t want to stop partying. The video segment went viral, unleashing a wave of comments about their cluelessness.

The video also caught the attention of Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell who tweeted: “Anyone in this video, please don’t apply to work” at Dell or VMware. He followed that up with a second tweet adding Secureworks, DellFDN, Boomi and MSD Capital to the list of places the recorded students can expect to never get a job.


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