Five Companies That Came To Win This Week

T-Mobile Borrows Apple Ad To Slam Rival AT&T

Looks like Verizon isn't the only U.S. carrier that's able to ridicule AT&T's struggles with iPhone bandwidth issues.

T-Mobile quite literally took a page from the Apple playbook this week in a new television commercial that makes fun of the iPhone's FaceTime video chat application's Wi-Fi only requirement.

T-Mobile's commercial is a virtual copy of Apple's "Get A Mac" campaign spots, but the carrier, which skillfully pokes fun at AT&T's network without dragging Apple into the fray. That's shrewd marketing, not to mention a somewhat surprising attack from T-Mobile, a carrier that's mired in fourth place in the U.S. and would love to be able to sell the iPhone.

HP Delays Controversial Partner Program Policy

Hewlett-Packard channel partners were thrilled by the company's decision this week to delay enforcement of the terms of its Penetration Rate Index program. The controversial program, unveiled last November, calls for VARs to sell HP-branded services at 75 percent of the average HP partner or risk losing their authorized service provider status.

Stephen DiFranco, vice president and general manager of HP's Americas Solution Partners Organization, told solution providers via email that HP won't take any action until it examines the PRI program further.

"We have heard that PRI can be too complicated to understand, too time intensive to manage and too black-and-white on exceptions. We are working to address these concerns," DiFranco said in an email to partners.

Cloud Sherpas Rides High On Cloud Popularity Wave

Cloud computing solution provider Cloud Sherpas this week pulled in $1.6 million in venture capital funding, the latest win for the Atlanta-based cloud VAR that has moved some 600,000 enterprise users to Google Apps to date.

Cloud Sherpas has found success in convincing companies running software from IBM, Microsoft and Novell to switch over to Google Apps. Cloud Sherpas' software is in use at more than 8,000 companies, representing more than 1.5 million Google Apps users. The company has now raised close to $3 million in VC funding and plans to channel its latest round into continuing its Google Apps momentum.

"Things have just continued to accelerate," Cloud Sherpas founder Michael Cohn told CRN this week.

Microsoft, LG Giving Away Free Windows Phone 7 Apps

What's the best course of action when you've got a new smartphone OS and want to get people using it as quickly as possible? Give away free apps, of course! Microsoft and LG this week unveiled plans to give customers a "free selection of quality applications" for customers that purchase LG Windows Phone 7 smartphones.

This will be a revolving portfolio of hand-picked applications from the Windows Marketplace For Mobile spanning popular areas like social networking games, and utilities. Ten free applications with a value of more than $30 will be given away every 60 days, the companies said.

Gordon Gecko would probably disagree with this, but for Microsoft, which is behind -- way behind -- in the smartphone market, "free is good". At least when it comes to apps. The company is of course charging a licensing fee for Windows Phone 7, but at least it's aware that the mobile success is all about the apps.

Saas Startup Apptio Adds Cisco As Reseller Partner

Apptio, a Bellevue, Wash.-based Saas startup that helps companies cut costs and align their business models with cloud computing, this week obtained $20 million in Series C investment from a varied group that includes Cisco, Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners, Madrona Venture Group and Shasta Ventures.

Of greater importance to Apptio is that Cisco is now a reseller partner and will be adding Apptio's TBM solutions into its own professional services arm.

"Cisco believes that this is a very strategic market," Stan Shull, vice president of strategic alliances at Apptio, told CRN this week. "The funding and the reseller relationship are separate on one hand, but the investment sort of cements the reseller relationship, too."