Five Companies That Dropped The Ball This Week

Windows Phone 7 Sales Hit A Pothole

Microsoft's share of the smartphone market with Windows Phone dropped from 2.7 percent in last year's Q3 to 1.5 percent in this year's Q3, Gartner said in a research report issued this week. This obviously isn't great news for Microsoft, despite the improvements that came with its release of Windows Phone 7.5.

The gut-punch for Microsoft here, as has been the case since it launched Windows Phone, is that Apple and Google continue to record ridiculous growth for their respective OSes.

"Android benefited from more mass-market offerings, a weaker competitive environment and the lack of exciting new products on alternative operating systems such as Windows Phone 7 and RIM," Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner, said in a press release issued this week.

Android Malware Authors Having A Field Day

Android malware has seen a 472 percent increase from July through mid-November, and hackers are increasingly viewing Android as a lucrative target for their wares, security researchers from Juniper said this week. "Since Android's existence, we have never seen an increase this dramatic," Dan Hoffman, chief security evangelist at Juniper, told CRN.

According to a report from the Juniper Global Threat Center, Android malware is growing because Apple and Google take markedly different approaches to vetting the offerings on their respective app stores.

"Android’s open applications store model, which the lacks code signing and an application review process that Apple requires, makes it easy for attackers to distribute their malware," Juniper researchers said in the report.

Verizon Tells Customers They Can Opt-Out Of Mobile Data Collection

Verizon this week sent customers a notice informing them that it recently changed its privacy policy in a way that allows the carrier to use their browsing and search history, and other data, to deliver more accurately targeted mobile advertising.

Verizon clearly lists all of the ways it's using subscriber data, and customers can opt out of the data collection if they so choose. But as noted by Techcrunch, this is a prime example of a company taking advantage of the current ambiguity over online privacy, and lack of government regulation on the issue, to its advantage.

NetApp Shares Plunge On Uncertain Q3 Outlook

NetApp has had a rough ride in its last couple of fiscal quarters, and this week's Q3 earnings hewed to this trend. NetApp's Q2 profit and revenue figures were decent, but its outlook of 36 cents to 40 cents per share for Q3 amounted to a big old bucket of ice water being tossed on a shivering, fretful crowd.

As is the case with many tech companies, the Thailand floods are also fueling the uncertainty. "We believe we'll have sufficient drive inventory through the end of December, but it's difficult for anybody to predict what will happen beyond that," Steve Gomo, NetApp's executive vice president and CFO, said the week in the earnings call.

Retailers Gearing Up For RIM PlayBook Fire Sale

RIM's PlayBook has received a frosty reception in the marketplace, in part due to a lack of features, and in part because the iPad has been devouring the lunch of most tablet makes. RIM's PlayBook recall back in May didn't help, either.

Now it looks like the long-predicted PlayBook fire sale is about to begin. The Verge reported this week that Staples in the U.S. will sell the 16GB PlayBook for $199, or $300 off its MSRP. Also, Canadian retailers are set to slap the same deeply discounted price tag on the device, if only for a limited time, according to The Verge.

As HP can attest, once a tablet fire sale frenzy begins, it's exceedingly difficult to extinguish. Hard to imagine that these won't become the permanent prices for the PlayBook.