Five Companies That Dropped The Ball This Week

Intel Makes $1B Million Boo-Boo With Cougar Point Chipset

Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, but when you're Intel, mistakes often send a disasterlike cloud wafting through large portions of the tech industry. So it was this week in the wake of Intel's disclosure that it has halted shipments of its Intel 6 Series Cougar Point chipset due to a storage-related error in its design.

Intel expects the recall to cause a shortfall of approximately $300 million in first-quarter revenue and for the total cost of repairing and replacing the affected hardware to be approximately $700 million. While some system builders aren't happy with how Intel has handled the matter, others feel the chip maker has handled it in a satisfactory way.

The problem now is that Intel's large OEM partners have all delayed their Sandy Bridge plans, and for a release of this magnitude that can hardly be spun as anything but bad news.

Netgear CEO Lo Opens Mouth, Inserts Foot

Netgear CEO Patrick Lo attracted a ton of negative attention this week at an event in Sydney, Australia, by lambasting Apple's insularity and calling out CEO Steve Jobs for having a big ego. While few would argue with some of his logic, Lo suggested that things at Apple might change once Jobs "goes away", which was widely interpreted in the worst possible way. The remark was particularly crass given that Jobs recently left his post for medical reasons.

Lo later apologized for his remarks and denied wishing Jobs any ill will, but this is still one of the bigger blunders a tech industry executive has made in a long time. Like anything on the Web, once a comment is out there, it's out there.

Verizon Throttles Users' Bandwidth, Says It Planned To All Along

Verizon this week prepared for the coming spike in iPhone data usage by revealing a plan to throttle iPhone data throughput speeds for the top 5 percent of its Verizon Wireless data users, a group known in some circles as "data hogs." Interestingly, Verizon said the policy had nothing to do with the fact that it began taking orders for the iPhone this week, and that it had been planning to institute it for quite some time.

That may be the case, but this sort of pre-emptive maneuvering is a crack in Verizon's armor that rival AT&T could look to exploit. Verizon could have gone AT&T's route and done away with unlimited data, but instead appears to be giving itself an out by whining about data hogs. If Verizon's network is brought to its knees as AT&T's has been in major cities, not only will this trigger massive amounts of gloating from AT&T, it could also cause people to start pining for a Sprint and/or T-Mobile iPhone.

Apple Tightens Screws On E-Book Sellers, Demands Its Cut

Although Apple's move to force e-book vendors to go through the App Store and pay Apple its 30 percent cut could just as easily be considered a "came to win," it also risks angering companies that sell products that could greatly enhance the iPad's appeal. More importantly, this kind of strong-arming is likely to attract attention from antitrust regulators, who've already been scrutinizing its business dealings.

Microsoft Hit With Defection Of Two Key Bing Team Members

Microsoft's Bing team lost two high-ranking members this week, a development that played out in the background of Microsoft and Google's back-and-forth squabbling over who's copying who in search. Alek Kocz, Bing's principal scientist and a five-year Microsoft veteran, left for a position at Twitter, while Scott Prevost, principal development manager for Bing, took a position as vice president of search product management at eBay.

Search talent is a hot commodity, and it may just be that these two were offered deals they couldn't refuse. But this can hardly be seen as anything but a troubling sign for Microsoft as it tries to claw its way to a meaningful -- and profitable -- search business.