Five Companies That Dropped The Ball This Week

Microsoft Loses Another Visionary Behind Windows Azure

Amitabh Srivastava, a senior vice president in Microsoft's Server and Tools Business, is leaving Microsoft after 14 years at the company, the latest in a long string of Microsoft executive departures.

The timing of Srivastava's resignation may have just been a coincidence, but Srivastava was one of the principal architects of Windows Azure, along with the departing Ray Ozzie, and was believed to be in the running for the top post at STB. Microsoft instead tapped Satya Nadella from Online Services to replace the pushed aside Bob Muglia.

Ballmer is in the midst of an executive shakeup aimed at infusing more engineering talent into Microsoft's executive ranks. But when was the last time a couple of weeks passed without a key Microsoft executive leaving? The doors at Redmond have been getting quite the workout lately and that's getting tougher and tougher to spin in a positive light.

AMD's Executive Leadership Exodus Continue

AMD's Chief Operating and Administrative Officer Bob Rivet and Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy Marty Seyer stepped down from their posts this week. AMD said Rivet and Seyer are "leaving to pursue new opportunities" and their departure comes a month after CEO Dirk Meyer stepped down from his post.

All of the executive turmoil at AMD isn't inspiring confidence within the company's system builder channel ranks. Some even believe AMD's product strategy, and perhaps its release schedule, could be impacted.

Meanwhile, AMD this week claimed that Intel's Cougar Point chipset recall, and its effect on Sandy Bridge PC shipments, was driving customers its way, but Intel's decision to keep shipping the chipset would seem to blunt any advantage AMD might have gained. Sometimes, a company just can't catch a break.

HP Unveils webOS Tablet, Smartphone Months Before Actually Shipping Them

HP's hype machine has been running at full steam for months, but when HP finally unveiled its webOS-powered TouchPad tablet and Pre3 and Veer smartphones this week, many questions were left unanswered. HP still isn't talking about pricing or carrier partners. And the TouchPad and Pre3 aren't shipping until this summer, which is odd given that HP CEO Leo Apotheker's vow that "HP will stop making announcements for stuff it doesn't have."

Excuse us, HP, but your Apple envy is showing. And here's a newflash: webOS devices may challenge the iPhone and iPad one day, but that's not going to happen with product teases and ham-fisted, borderline guerilla marketing campaigns.

Getting developers on board with webOS will be crucial, and luring away Apple executive Richard Kerris and naming him VP of worldwide developer relations was a good start, however.

Lenovo's Tablet Strategy Somehow Doesn't Include U.S.

Tablets are all the rage, and OEMs are racing to introduce offerings to the U.S. market. Except Lenovo, which is taking a cautious approach to the tablet market and currently has no U.S. release schedule for its tablet products. This is baffling because Lenovo's LePad tablet and IdeaPad U1 hybrid notebook-tablet have been getting tons of attention, causing a near riot at CES this year.

"We don't want to just throw a bunch of tablets out there like other manufacturers," Luis Hernandez, executive director of Lenovo's ThinkPad group, told CRN last month. "We want to study the space first."

Lenovo says it's using a "protect and attack" strategy -- protecting its enterprise business around the world and itsconsumer business in China and attacking emerging markets for tablets and smartphones outside China. However, given the rate at which competitors are flooding the U.S. market, Lenovo had better move soon or there won't be anything left to protect or attack.

Cisco Shares Whacked On Weak Q3 Margin Outlook

Competition and an uncertain public sector spending outlook caused investors to flee for the exits in the wake of Cisco's Q2 earnings report this week, sending its shares down more than 14 percent. Although Cisco's results were respectable, its Q3 revenue increase forecast of between 4 and 6 percent and Q4 forecast of 8 and 11 percent revenue growth were both well below Cisco's customary target of 12 to 17 percent.

What's especially troubling for Cisco is that networking foes Juniper and Alcatel didn't get hammered, which is leading industry watchers to believe that intensifying networking industry competition, and Cisco and HP's ongoing no-holds-barred steel cage match, are taking a toll on Cisco's business.