Five Companies That Dropped The Ball This Week

Cisco Hits A $500 Million 'Air Pocket'

Cisco reported nice profit and sales growth this week for its first quarter, but Cisco's struggles in its public-sector business and orders that came in more than $500 million below Cisco's initial first-quarter sales forecast are causing investors to head for the hills. Cisco CEO John Chambers likened the situation to hitting an "air pocket."

Air pocket? More like a "hot air" pocket, because that's exactly what this sort of pronouncement brings to mind. OK, so the term "bump in the road" is overused, but that would have left Cisco less open to snide remarks.

Cisco is forecasting a second-quarter revenue increase of 3 percent to 5 percent, and an overall fiscal 2011 revenue increase of 9 percent to 12 percent. That pales in comparison to the 13 percent for the second quarter and the 13.1 percent for FY11 predicted by analysts.

Microsoft Fails To Patch Older Versions Of Office For Mac

What gives, Microsoft? Your decision to provide a security alert on Mac Office 2004 and Mac Office 2008 without providing subsequent security patches has a lot of industry watchers scratching their heads, and not in a good way.

"The security updates for Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac, Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac and Open XML File Format Converter for Mac are unavailable at this time," Microsoft said in a security bulletin this week.

Great, just what Microsoft needs, another reason for cynics to speculate that it's trying to strong-arm customers into upgrading to the newly unveiled Office For Mac 2011.

Oracle Gets All Cloak-And-Dagger With HP's Apotheker

Oracle has hired private detectives to track down Hewlett-Packard CEO Leo Apotheker in order to get him to testify in Oracle's software theft/copyright infringement lawsuit against SAP, according to an anonymous source " with knowledge of the situation" quoted by Reuters this week.

Wow, this sounds like a great use of corporate funds. Oracle really seems to be enjoying getting its James Bond on with this kind of stuff. And we're sure Oracle shareholders will be delighted to fund this kind of skullduggery.

It makes for great theater, and Larry Ellison is probably cackling with glee in some underground lair while he keeps track of the situation. But Oracle and HP channel partners probably aren't as enthused.

HP, for its part, characterized Oracle's cloak-and-dagger activities as "harassment." Looks like that reconciliation talk the two companies staged at Openworld was just a dog-and-pony show.

FCC Launches Google Street View Investigation

Google's Street View misstep is the gift that keeps on giving, at least when it comes to keeping government regulatory authorities busy. This week, the FCC launched an investigation to determine whether Google violated federal laws during its ostensibly accidental Street View personal data-hoovering campaign.

Oh, it's on now. The FCC's investigation comes just two weeks after the FTC concluded its own probe. Meanwhile, Google still has its hands full with privacy hawks in Europe and elsewhere. Google says it will cooperate with authorities during the investigation and apologized for its missteps, but "sorry" ain't going to cut it when government agencies start getting wind of possible transgressions committed by extremely rich companies.

HP Hit With $16.25 Million Fraud Settlement

This week Hewlett-Packard agreed to pay the government $16.25 million to settle a fraud case stemming from lawsuits against two Houston-area channel partners who gave gifts to Houston and Dallas school officials in order to "win" high-dollar government contracts.

These gifts included yacht trips, Super Bowl tickets, meals and entertainment. The fraud case was triggered after whistle blowers tipped off officials, spurring an extensive FCC and DOJ investigation.

HP is implementing stiff new rules for solution providers bidding on E-Rate public-sector contracts, but this is the type of nauseating story that can leave a stain on a company's image for years.