Five Companies That Dropped The Ball This Week

HP Whines About RIM Copying Its webOS TouchPad Tablet

HP's TouchPad isn't on the market yet. Neither is RIM's Blackberry Playbook. But that didn't stop HP from calling out RIM this week for copying webOS user interface features in the Playbook.

"From what we’ve seen in the market, there are some uncanny similarities," Jon Oakes, HP's director of TouchPad product marketing, told Laptop Magazine this week.

If you're looking for a foreshadowing of the coming tablet wars, two market newcomers trading barbs about products they've yet to release is telling stuff. HP plans to launch the TouchPad this summer and RIM is expecting to launch the Blackberry Playbook sometime in Q2.

Microsoft MSP Partners Lukewarm On Windows Intune

Microsoft this week said it'll launch its Windows Intune cloud based desktop management service on Mar. 23. MSPs say it's a great offering from a technical perspective, one could potentially be used to maintain touch over a larger swath of customers, but Microsoft's decision to control billing is a great big honking obstacle for some MSPs.

"When your business model is designed around being a 'trusted advisor' offloading IT responsibility from a small business and delivering vendor management, a model in which Microsoft only allows direct billing is incompatible," Dave Sobel, CEO of Fairfax, Va.-based Evolve Technologies told CRN this week.

Google Hit With Major Gmail Outage

A software bug introduced by a storage update created problems for roughly 150,000 Gmail users this week, a development akin to a gift-wrapped example for Microsoft to wield in future cloud squabbles. For more than three days, reports of intermittent access to Gmail circulated through the Gmail user base, but Google on Thursday said service had been fully restored.

Perhaps of greater concern to Google than the actual outage is the spotlight the incident has shined on its customer service apparatus, and the difficulty with which users of its services have been able to resolve issues. This is another area where Microsoft has hit Google in the past and will no doubt continue to do in the wake of the Gmail outage.

HBGary CEO Resigns, Congress May Investigate Tactics

The bad news is flowing like a ruptured oil pipeline for HBGary Federal, whose CEO Aaron Barr stepped down this week as Congress mulled the idea of an investigation of the security firm's tactics in an alleged plot, involving two other security firms, against supporters of Wikileaks and the U.S. Chamber Of Commerce.

HBGary, which in recent months has been trying to unmask the members of the hacker group Anonymous, pulled out of the RSA 2011 security conference last month after claiming to have received "numerous threats of violence" against employees. Anonymous hacked into HBGary's corporate network and stole and published some 60,000 internal documents, and it looks like the trouble is only beginning for the security firm.

AT&T Acknowledges That The Future Is An Uncertain Place

AT&T this week put on a brave face when discussing the level of its iPhone subscribers who've jumped ship since Verizon added the device to its lineup in January.

"We haven't seen any surprises, and everything is pretty much within our expectations," Ralph de la Vega, AT&T's head of consumer and mobility businesses, said this week at a Morgan Stanley technology conference in San Francisco, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

However, de la Vega took some of the wind out of this pronouncement by acknowledging that this could change in the foreseeable future. "It's a little bit early to tell. The situation is volatile; it changes from one week to the next," he said.