Five Companies That Came To Win This Week

Amazon Rocks Tablet Market With $199 Kindle Fire Launch

Amazon fired a cannon shot across the bow of tablet vendors with the launch of Kindle Fire, a full-color 7-inch LCD touch-screen tablet that weighs 14.6 ounces and carries a surprisingly low $199 price tag.

The Android based Kindle Fire includes a dual-core processor, 8 GB of storage, access to books, movies and music and a host of other media capabilities. The Kindle Fire lacks a camera, microphone and 3G, but its Amazon Silk "split browser" handles heavy processing duties with the help of Amazon Web Services Cloud.

It's too early to call the Kindle Fire an iPad killer, and the tech news reading populace is probably sick of hearing that term bandied about anyway, but the Fire will no doubt appeal to many would-be tablet buyers on the strength of its attractive price tag.

Microsoft Receives Kudos For Windows Phone 7 'Mango' Update

Microsoft began rolling out its Windows Phone 7.5 'Mango' update this week, and it's getting rave reviews due to the boatload of new features and functionality it brings. New features include e-mail "conversation view", the long-awaited application multitasking, support for Internet Explorer 9, and the "threads" capability.

Microsoft has reportedly worked out many of the usability kinks that existed in the previous version of Windows Phone 7, and its Metro user interface continues to emerge as something no one else in the mobile market can bring to bear. Microsoft, it seems, is on its way to banishing the ghosts of its past mobile missteps.

Verizon Flexes Cloud Muscles With Over $2 Billion In 2011 Investments

Verizon this week said it has invested "well over $2 billion" in cloud technology and services this year, including its $1.4 billion acquisition of Terremark and recent purchase of cloud software player CloudSwitch.

Verizon estimates the total market for cloud services will hit $150 billion by 2020, compared to $10 billion now. "We think we'll have a pretty good share of that," Terremark Worldwide Group President Kerry Bailey told Bloomberg.

Acer Launches Ultrabook Pricing Ambush On U.S. Market Rivals

As CRN reported earlier this week, Acer may be planning a sneak attack on rivals in the U.S. ultrabook market by pricing its Aspire S3 at $899, roughly $200 less than what it's charging in Europe.

Ultrabooks as a category are unproven, and Intel has reportedly been pressuring OEMs to hit the under-$1000 price point, but Acer, as it's been known to do in the past, boldly placed a stake in the ground with the Aspire S3. Analysts believe the move could cause other OEMs to follow suit.

Apple Gets Big Legal Victory Over Mac Clone Maker Psystar

Seems like Apple is involved in too many legal disputes these days, but the company scored a big win this week against a longtime thorn in its side.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit this week upheld a permanent injunction against Psystar, the Mac clone maker that's been embroiled in a legal tussle with Apple for the past three years.

So it looks like game over for Psystar, which was slapped with a $2.7 million fine in 2009 and ordered to halt sales of Mac clones. Oh yeah, Psystar also filed for bankruptcy that year, and countersued Apple for violating antitrust laws by bundling OS X to Mac hardware.