Five Companies That Dropped The Ball This Week

Microsoft's Faulty Windows Phone 7 Update

Microsoft needs Windows Phone 7 to be a success to get back into a competitive position in the mobile space, and the OS has received rave reviews for its innovative user interface. But in the wake of a faulty Windows Phone 7 update released this week, which caused problems for users and even bricked some Samsung Windows 7 devices, Microsoft is in a damage control mode with which it's all too familiar.

Microsoft pulled the update for Samsung device owners after identifying an unspecified technical glitch. But the software giant couldn't help noting that 90 percent of the updates went off without a hitch. If a 10 percent failure rate is acceptable for mobile device updates, that's fine, but it sure sounds high to us.

Nvidia Gets Shut Out Of Macbook GPU Picture

Nvidia's graphics cards are found in the current generation of Apple's 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro notebooks, but Apple has decided to go with AMD graphics cards in its next-generation MacBooks. It's a major blow to Nvidia and a development that's certain to fuel its growing rivalry with AMD in the GPU market.

According to analyst Chris Caso of Susquehanna Financial, Apple's nod to AMD will have an impact on Nvidia's future earnings. "We think the magnitude of the revenue shift is on the order of $100 million in annual revenue," Caso wrote in a note to clients this week. "Following this change, Nvidia's only remaining exposure to Apple will be on the MacBook Air, and once that business moves to Sandy Bridge, Nvidia will have zero remaining exposure to Apple."

HP Services Slump, Consumer PC Weakness

HP had some bright spots from its first-quarter earnings, including strong growth and operating margin in its networking business. But unexpected weakness in HP's services business, coupled with weak demand for consumer PCs, had HP CEO Leo Apotheker fielding question after pointed question from Wall Street analysts.

HP shares dove nearly 13 percent in the wake of the news. "We need to do a much better job in our high-value-added services, and it's apparent that we have some work to do," Apotheker said on the call.

At an event on March 14, Apotheker plans to unveil his strategy for helping HP take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead, but during the call he told analysts that brass tacks financial guidance wouldn't be on the agenda. "It’s not a meeting where we lay out long-term financial plan or guidance, it’s a discussion of where we see the market going, why HP’s uniquely positioned, how we expect to win," Apotheker said on the call.

Google Watches As Bing, Facebook Get Cozier

As Google continues to take heat for the accuracy of its search results, Bing and Facebook revealed a deepening of the partnership they began last year that led to Liked Results, a feature promoting links that friends have publicly liked or shared via Facebook. "Today we are extending Liked Results to annotate any of the URLs returned by our algorithmic search results to all users in the U.S.," the Bing team said in a blog post Thursday.

If a Facebook user's friends have publicly liked or shared any of the algorithmic search results shown on Bing, the search engine will list them below the result. For Bing, which already has partnered with Twitter to integrate its data, Facebook represents a key differentiator from Google.

Oracle Apparently Left Out Of Server Industry Party

Oracle got into the server business with last year's acquisition of Sun Microsystems, but its fortunes in this space are headed in the wrong direction.

According to Gartner's fourth-quarter server market data released this week, HP was the largest server vendor in terms of shipments with a 31.7 percent market share and enjoyed 17.3 percent growth over 2009. Dell accounted for 23.4 percent of servers sold worldwide and its shipments grew 21.3 percent from last year.

Oracle placed fifth, trailing third place IBM (13.1 percent market share) and Fujitsu (3.3 market share) in Gartner's survey, shipping just 162,340 servers in 2010, down 31.6 percent from its 2009 shipments.