5 Companies That Came To Win This Week

Microsoft Charts Course For Partners In The Cloud

For Microsoft, a big part of "winning" in the cloud is getting channel partners on board with its vision. But so far, the path traditional VARs will take to the cloud hasn't been very well defined. That all changed this week at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference, where the software giant came to the table with cloud-related tools, training and other incentives.

Microsoft is also giving partners free 250-seat licenses for BPOS, Azure, CRM Online and Windows Intune, in the belief that VARs that dog-food these Microsoft products will be better equipped to sell them. ’We’re doing this because we want you running on our latest software,’ said Jon Roskill, Microsoft's new VP of worldwide channels.

Intel Has Another Blowout Quarter

Intel this week gleefully reported details of what it's calling "the best quarter in the company's 42-year history." Intel racked up a profit in its fiscal second quarter of $2.9 billion on revenue of $10.8 billion. This followed Intel's smashing Q1 in which the company reported profit of $2.4 billion on revenue of $10.3 billion.

Mobile microprocessors contributed mightily to Intel's results, but PC and server chips were also up. Intel's second-quarter revenue was up $466 million from Q1, and gross margin came in well ahead of the company's own estimates at 67 percent. Could it be that corporate purse strings are finally loosening? We'll know more when Microsoft reports its Q4 and FY2010 earnings on July 22.

Meanwhile, Intel also poached Palm executive Mike Bell and named him Director of Smartphone Product Development in Intel's Ultra Mobility Group. Bell, a 16-year Apple veteran, gives Intel another asset for its mobile aspirations, while simultaneously weakening those of HP.

IBM Looks To Channel Partners For Growth

IBM is mounting an aggressive campaign to drive $20 billion in additional revenue in strategic parts of its business, and it's relying on the channel to make it happen. IBM is targeting four main business areas: emerging growth markets, Smarter Planet initiative, business analytics and cloud computing, with a goal driving revenue from $30 billion this year to $50 billion in 2015.

"There is unbelievable opportunity for the channel going forward," Rich Hume, general manager of IBM Global Business Partners, told CRN this week. "The channel is right in the forefront of every major strategic imperative we are working on."

Many solution providers are wondering what role the channel will play in cloud computing and other emerging technologies, and IBM will have to answer these questions if this initiative is going to work out. But IBM is laying its cards on the table in a way that suggests it's got full confidence in its partners' abilities.

Nvidia Takes Aim At Rival AMD

Nvidia's release this week of its GeForce GTX 460 video card is being interpreted as a shot across the bow of rival AMD, which has been on a roll in the discrete graphics market in the past couple of years and reported solid earnings this week.

Nvidia says the GeForce GTX 460 offers better performance that "competing processors" such as AMD's ATI Radeon HD 5830 card, and their compact design make them a space and power saver in custom desktop systems.

The GeForce GTX 460 is the first sub-$200 card based on Nvidia's DirectX 11-ready Fermi architecture, and it could put Nvidia back in the discussion in the desktop PC enthusiast market.

Apple Adds Another Piece To Mapping Portfolio

Apple added another piece to its mapping technology portfolio with the acquisition of Poly9, a Quebec-based firm that develops 3-D global maps. The deal follows Apple's acquisition earlier this year of PlaceBase, developer of the Pushpin mapping API.

In the red-hot smartphone market, companies are seeking any edge they can get on the competition, and licensing other companies' technology obviously can get in the way of a healthy revenue stream. It appears that Apple is trying to lessen its dependence on Google Maps on the iPhone as the two companies' once-tight partnership continues to wither on the vine.

Check out our roundup of vendors that dropped the ball for a look at the companies that were asleep at the wheel this week.