Five Vendors That Dropped The Ball This Week

Yahoo Falls Even Further Off The Radar

Yahoo's lone highlight this week -- and one of the year's best quotes -- came when CEO Carol Bartz got annoyed with Techcrunch's Michael Arrington and told him to "F-off". Otherwise, Bartz's efforts to keep Yahoo relevant appear to be having little effect.

According to the latest figures from comScore, unique visitors to Yahoo in the U.S. this year were up just 4 percent, compared to the overall Internet average of 10 percent. Visitors also spent about 11 percent less time on Yahoo in terms of minutes, and Yahoo's overall page views fell 13 percent.

Worse, Facebook has now overtaken Yahoo in online display ad impressions, according to comScore. All of this is a great big package of headache for a company that has to go up against Google and Microsoft.

Microsoft's Mobile Future Gets Cloudier

No, this headline isn't a pun on Microsoft weaving cloud computing into its mobile strategy. This week's news that Robbie Bach, head of the Entertainment and Devices division, is retiring in the fall leaves one of the software giant's most important growth businesses without a leader, and Microsoft doesn't plan to replace him.

J Allard, a 19-year Microsoft veteran and senior vice president of Design and Development for E&D, is also leaving, taking with him expertise that helped drive the Xbox into global living rooms.

Windows Phone 7 isn't due until late this year. Apple is coming out with a 4G iPhone next month. Google's Android is galloping madly into a surprisingly competitive position in the mobile marketplace. At this point, Microsoft may have no choice but to buy one of the major players and start riding that company's momentum, because right now it has almost none.

Facebook Chided For Its Response To Critics

Facebook, in a bid to keep the pitchfork-wielding mobs away from its offices, this week unveiled three major changes to how it handles user privacy.

"We've focused on three things: a single control for your content, more powerful controls for your basic information and an easy control to turn off all applications," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post announcing the changes. Some privacy groups aren't buying it, however.

Facebook obviously had to respond to anger within its user base, but this thing isn't over, and privacy advocates are going to keep watching the social networking site with a hawk-like intensity and waiting for the next overreaching misstep.

Palm Loses Key UI Engineer To Google

Palm got acquired last month by Hewlett-Packard, but this week the company lost mobile interface expert Matias Duarte to Google. HP bought Palm to get its hands on webOS, but Duarte reportedly spearheaded development of Palm’s webOS user interface, so this might put a crimp on its plans.

Google Hems And Haws Over Street View Data

Google this week was supposed to turn over data it gathered as part of its Street View Wi-Fi hoovering to German regulatory authorities, but didn't. Its excuse? That German privacy laws prevented the company from turning over the data.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong regulators are also getting frustrated with what they say is Google's less-than-forthright stance on turning over data collected in the Chinese territory.

Google is engaged in a dangerous dance here. Facebook just got raked over the coals for not moving quickly enough to address users' privacy concerns. Google may be riding high on the strength of its search advertising business, as well as Android, but privacy issues can tarnish a company's name pretty quickly.

For our roundup of vendors that came to win this week, click here.