Five Companies That Dropped The Ball This Week

Motorola Confirms Stratospheric Pricing For Xoom Tablet

Motorola's Xoom tablet is, from most accounts, a very impressive tablet, and even a potential iPad killer. But at the Mobile World Congress, when Motorola confirmed its Xoom pricing this week -- $799 for a 32GB model with 3G, and $599 for Wi-Fi only -- critics gnashed their teeth and predicted a frosty market reception.

Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha defended the Xoom's pricing on the grounds that it will be compatible with Verizon's 4G network once it launches. "We felt that our ability to deliver 50 megabits per second would justify the $799 price point. It is 32GB with 3G and a free upgrade to 4G," Jha told The Wall Street Journal at MWC.

50 megabits per second? Keep on repeating that and maybe people will start to believe it, but that isn't going to become reality for a while.

Intel Gets Snubbed On MeeGo, Loses Out On MWC Buzz

Intel suggested at CES that it would make a splash at the Mobile World Congress, but that was muted by Nokia's decision to halt work on its MeeGo-based N9 smartphone and embrace Microsoft's Windows Phone 7. Ouch.

Intel is gamely forging ahead with MeeGo and says it's looking for new partners, but getting dumped by Nokia is a bad sign for Intel, which is already struggling for relevancy in the mobile space. Making matters worse, when Intel unveiled its new Medfield smartphone processor at MWC and vowed to crush ARM in the marketplace, ARM CEO Warren East scoffed at the notion, noting that Intel still has a ton of ground to make up.

Microsoft Blocks Open Source Apps From Windows Marketplace

Microsoft has adopted a conciliatory tone in its dealings with the open source community, but apparently this only extends to enterprise software and not the mobile space. In a move that's riling advocates of open source, Microsoft has written its Windows Marketplace licensing terms to prohibit open source code and apps.

"The Application must not include software, documentation, or other materials that, in whole or in part, are governed by or subject to an Excluded License, or that would otherwise cause the Application to be subject to the terms of an Excluded License," according to Microsoft's Windows Marketplace Application Provider Agreement.

One could say that Apple's App Store policies are chock full of this sort of the exclusionary mentality, but that would literally be an Apples-and-Microsoft comparison. Apple gets away with stuff like this, but Microsoft's reputation will no doubt take a hit in the open source community as a result of this incident.

Security Vendor HBGary Gets Eaten By Its Prey

HBGary, a Sacramento, Calif.-based security firm that has been trying to unmask the members of the hacker group Anonymous, pulled out of the RSA 2011 security conference this week after alleging that its staff had received threats of violence.

HBGary also claimed that hackers from Anonymous, which supports Wikileaks by attacking site like Amazon and Paypal that have cut it off, broke into its computer systems and stole proprietary and confidential data.

The security firm has been making public statements recently about its desire to uncover the individuals behind Anonymous, but in this case, the hunter became the prey.

Dell Employees Arrested After Idiotic Marketing Stunt

The term "marketing stunt gone awry" is well established in the annals of tech industry history, but an episode that took place this week at Dell Computer's Round Rock, Texas headquarters managed to plumb the depths of asinine behavior. According to local news station KNAX, Round Rock's SWAT team responded to 911 calls about a person in clad in black biker attire, wearing a skull mask and carrying two metallic objects ordering people to "go to the lobby."

Turns out an unidentified Dell sales manager staged the internal stunt to celebrate the launch of the new Dell Streak tablet. People inside the building were understandably terrified because the sales manager hadn't told anyone about the stunt. Making matters worse, two men refused to cooperate with police and were arrested. The mind boggles.