Ka-Pow! 10 Tech Tussles Creating Fireworks In 2010

A Pop And A Flash

Sometimes things get a little out of hand. Maybe even, um, explosive. And the high-tech industry and the IT channel are most certainly no exceptions. As the national day for explosions in the sky approaches (July 4, in case you forgot), CRN pulls together a look at some of the best channel- and tech-related fireworks so far in 2010. Sit back and watch the sparks fly!

Cisco And HP Rumble

Cisco Systems told Hewlett-Packard to take a hike back in February, ditching HP as a channel partner and dissolving their decades-old partnership. The break-up came as the two tech powerhouses were -- and still are -- embroiled in a competitive kerfuffle of epic proportions peppered with not so subtle jabs and acts of one-upmanship as the duo duke it out to be the single vendor customers and the channel go to for all of their network and data center needs.

The split means HP is no longer a Cisco Certified Channel or Global Service Alliance Partner, and Cisco said it wouldn't renew HP's contract as a Cisco Systems Integrator.

"Over the last few years our relationship with HP has evolved from a partner to companies with different and conflicting visions of how to deliver value to customers," Cisco Senior Vice President of Worldwide Channels Keith Goodwin said in video blog. "Despite this shift in industry dynamics, HP had remained a Cisco Certified Channel Partner. Being a Cisco Certified Channel Partner has numerous benefits including access to proprietary information (such as product roadmaps) and partner profitability initiatives. Given the evolution of our relationship it simply no longer makes sense to provide these benefits to HP."

Microsoft And Google Get Territorial

Microsoft and Google are butting heads in a number of areas, but none more vocal and visible than on the Web. More specifically, in the cloud. Yes, the duo are battling for browser bragging rights and OS opportunities, but it was the release of Microsoft Office 2010 and Office 2010 Web Apps, the cloud-based components of the productivity software, that really got the barbs flying.

Google staged a pre-emptive strike just before the official release of Office 2010, calling out Microsoft for its apparent lack of collaboration capabilities compared to its own cloud-based Google Docs and Google Apps offerings. Microsoft fought back and denied Google's claims.

The two continue to trade blows, both in the cloud and on land.

VMware And Microsoft Get Physical (Well, Virtual)

VMware and Microsoft, two virtualization rivals, took their feud public with a spat over what VMware's decision to offer an OEM version of Novell's SUSE Linux means.

For VMware's part, the company said it will distribute and support Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server operation system with its vSphere technology and will standardize its virtual appliance-based product offerings on that operating system, known as SLES. VMware said the move makes it cheap and easy for VMware vSphere Standard and Enterprise Plus virtualization applications to acquire a Linux distribution.

But Microsoft disagreed, calling the VMware and Novell agreement proof that VMware has decided virtualization is a server OS feature and that VMware is locking customers into an inflexible offer by threatening to invalidate SLES licenses if they drop support agreements for vSphere.

So far, VMware has had the final say, however, responding that Microsoft missed the point of VMware's agreement with Novel and noting that VMware is offering a cheap way to deploy SLES in VMware environments and that it has nothing to do with the architecture of the hypervisor.

"Come on Microsoft – this is Virtualization 101 level stuff," wrote VMware product marketing manager Alberto Farronato in a blog post.

Apple And Adobe Flash Face Off In Fracas

Apple has changed the way the world views mobile video with the capabilities packed into the Apple iPhone and the increasingly-popular Apple iPad touch-screen tablet. But stubborn Steve Jobs just won't budge when it comes to Adobe Flash and if you're waiting for Apple to support Flash on its devices, don't hold your breath.

Jobs has openly and publicly disparaged Flash saying it is problematic, battery draining, proprietary and that it runs too slow, which is why it will never see the light of day on the iPhone or iPad. Jobs went so far as to say Flash is one of the main reasons behind Mac crashes. Jobs' Flash dislike even prompted the often behind-the-scenes Apple CEO to pen a massive missive of a blog post regarding his "Thoughts On Flash" in which he fully outlined his stance. Jobs called Flash a closed, proprietary technology, among other things.

Meanwhile, Adobe, which had been rumored to be preparing to sue Apple over lack of inclusion of Flash-supporting software in its mobile devices, shrugged off Jobs' acerbic criticisms and in a series of advertisements and letters to print and Internet news outlets trumpeted Flash's openness and calling Apple the proprietary one and claiming Apple's lack of Flash support is hampering users' right to choose.

"What we don't love is anybody taking away your freedom to choose what you create, how you create it, and what you experience on the Web," one advertisement read. While in a letter Adobe wrote: "We believe that Apple, by taking the opposite approach, has taken a step that could undermine this next chapter of the web -- the chapter in which mobile devices outnumber computers, any individual can be a publisher, and content is accessed anywhere and at any time."

Salesforce And Microsoft Get Litigious

In May, Microsoft filed a patent infringement lawsuit against on-demand CRM application supplier Salesforce.com claiming that Salesforce's CRM applications infringe on nine Microsoft-held patents.

So what do you do when you get sued? You counter sue. And that's exactly what Salesforce did in June. Salesforce filed a suit of its own in late-June charging that Microsoft products like SharePoint and the .Net platform violate Salesforce-owned patents.

"Microsoft has incorporated Salesforce.com's patented technology into its services and products," Salesforce alleges in the suit. The suit said Microsoft products, such as SharePoint and the .Net platform, perform in a way that violates the Salesforce patents and the "risk of infringement was either known or so obvious that it should have been known by Microsoft," the suit said.

Salesforce is seeking a court order to prevent Microsoft’s further use of Salesforce technology, plus unspecified cash compensation.

The legal back and forth comes as Salesforce and Microsoft compete head-to-head for SaaS CRM applications and with competing platforms in the cloud computing software market. As with any patent infringement suit, it may take some time to see who comes out on top.

Apple iPhone 4 And HTC EVO 4G Square Off

It's not every day that a game-changing smartphone hits the market to so much fanfare that supply is sapped and hopefuls clamor to get their mitts on the new device. But in June, that happened twice and, by many accounts, the two smartphones are sure to square off in head-to-head combat in the summer smartphone showdown to see who comes out the boss.

First up was Sprint, which released the HTC EVO 4G to the masses in early June. The HTC EVO 4G, the first smartphone that leverages the high-speed 4G network, struck such a chord that it marked Sprint's biggest first day sales for any device in the company's history and has been impossible for brick-and-mortar and Web stores to keep in stock.

Not to be outdone, Apple countered later in June with the Apple iPhone 4. Always a crowd pleaser, the new iPhone reached 600,000 sold in the first day of pre-orders and went on to sell 1.1 million more to hit 1.7 million total sold in its first three days available. iPhone 4 shelves are also pretty much bare nationwide and online orders are being pushed well into July.

While neither Sprint nor Apple have taken jabs at one another over who is more deserving of the smartphone crown, it will be up to consumers to decide as sparks fly between the HTC EVO 4G and the Apple iPhone 4 in the battle of the touch-screen titans.

Google And Facebook Fuss And Fight

Google and Facebook are butting heads more often than in the past, mainly due to the pair of them both targeting the growing social network space and looking to differentiate themselves from the packs.

Google launched its Buzz social media platform earlier this year, which includes many elements some folks would call "Facebook-y," but even Buzz was a little more like Twitter than Facebook. And now there are rumors that Google is going to get even more like Facebook with the pending release of "Google Me," a direct jab at the king of social media.

But Facebook isn't taking it lying down. Instead, Facebook is pilfering top Google talent in a bid to square off more strategically against the Mountain View search giant. In late June, Google engineering director Matthew Papakipos, who played a key role in developing Google's Chrome OS, left Google for Facebook, where he is joining as director of engineering.

Meanwhile, in March, Web metrics firm HitWise found that Facebook surpassed Google in the number of site visits, making Facebook the most popular site on the Web for that time period.

Social networking aside, both Google and Facebook have made it clear that they want to be the portal to the Internet, whether through social media or through search capabilities, which Facebook is continually bulking up. Either way, it will be an interesting battle.

Amazon And Barnes and Noble eBook In Price Melee

Barnes and Noble chopped the price of its original Wi-Fi and 3G Nook E-Reader from $259 to $199 earlier this month. The book behemoth also unveiled a new lower-cost Wi-Fi only version of the Nook for $149.

The move by Barnes and Noble sparked an E-Reader price war.

Just hours later, Amazon took the hatchet to the price tag on its Kindle E-Reader, reducing the cost from $259 to $189. Amazon upped the ante by giving customers who bought a Kindle that shipped within the previous 30 days a credit for the price difference.

Meanwhile, the Apple iPad, which also contains an E-Reader, maintained its price.

Google Android, Microsoft And Apple In Tumult Over Tablets

Apple set the stage this past spring with the release of the touch-screen iPad tablet, which went on to sell more than 3 million in about 80 day's time. And tablet wannabes from all over came to fore with their touch-screen challengers. But none is as fierce as Google Android, which wants to be the operating system of record in the touch-screen tablet game.

Dell has sided with Android for the Dell Streak, its upcoming mini-tablet that will be Android-based. And Lenovo has shown its love for Android and is planning to pack pending tablet offerings. And, most recently, Cisco has unveiled the Cisco Cius, a tablet that runs on Android and will leverage Cisco collaboration and video tools, including HD video.

Microsoft also wants to flex its tablet muscle, and has been quick to say it's not scared by the traction Apple and Android have gained in the burgeoning market. Microsoft is working with Asus and MSI on Windows 7 tablets. Microsoft is confident that the tablet market will follow a similar trajectory to the netbook market of last year and that Windows will eventually be a dominant player.

Facebook And Privacy Have A Falling Out

Regardless of who else Facebook has squared off with so far in 2010, nothing has been more visible and more public than the row it sparked when it tweaked its privacy settings. It wasn't so much that Facebook was engaged in a rhubarb with privacy, but the donnybrook was more with its entire user base and even Congress.

May and June were tough for Facebook, which drew a firestorm of criticism from privacy rights groups, Congressional leaders and its more than 400 million users when it made sweeping changes to its privacy policies that included the launch of its instant personalization feature which linked users' information to third party applications and Web sites. And before that, Facebook made privacy settings changes that let user profile data be searched and exposed on public search engines as a default. Angered users and watchdogs wanted the information sharing to be an opt-in feature, not an opt-out as Facebook made it.

In late May, Facebook updated and simplified its privacy policies and added protection against user data being exposed, yet many still felt that wasn't enough and that more privacy precautions were needed.