Five Companies That Came To Win This Week

Lenovo Promotes Lanci To Key EMEA Post

Lenovo this week named former Acer CEO Gianfranco Lanci to head up its new Europe, Middle East and Africa business unit. Lanci had been working with Lenovo as a consultant since last September, but now he's going to be in a prime position to take the fight to his former company. Lanci probably has plenty of motivation to do so, considering that Acer's board ousted him last March over a difference of opinion about how best to approach the tablet market.

During his six-year tenure at Acer, Lanci gained widespread respect in system builder channel and was credited for leading Acer into the position it held in 2009 as the world’s number two notebook maker. Lenovo has since overtaken Acer for the number two spot in the PC market, and now Acer will have to find a way to deal with Lenovo's considerable momentum.

Google Beefs Up Its Patent Portfolio With IBM Deal

Google's Android mobile OS has been the target of patent lawsuits from Oracle, Apple and Microsoft. This week, Google moved to beef up its patent trove by acquiring some 200 patents from IBM, which cover video conferencing, Javascript widgets, e-mail administration and other technologies. Last year Google acquired more than 2,000 patents from IBM in a series of similar transactions.

The latest round of patents will augment those Google is looking to acquire in its $12.5 billion bid for Motorola Mobility. The search giant certainly isn't alone in girding for the patent wars of the future: Last year a consortium of companies, including Apple, Microsoft, EMC and Oracle, acquired patents owned by Novell for $450 million. Another consortium led by Apple bought patents from Nortel for $4.5 billion.

RIM Reportedly Mulling Demotion Of Lazaridis, Balsillie

RIM is considering replacing co-chairman and co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie with Barbara Stymiest, an independent director who joined RIM’s board in 2007, according to a report from Canada’s Financial Post. Normally this would sound like a bad thing, but given RIM's out-of-control tailspin, it's probably not a bad idea.

Stymiest, as part of a group of seven independent directors on the RIM board, is reportedly questioning the business wisdom of letting Lazaridis and Balsillie maintain their roles as co-chairman and co-CEO. That will no doubt come as welcome news to RIM investors who've been loudly voicing the same sentiments.

According to the report, the demotion of Lazaridis and Balsillie would be part of a larger reorganization spearheaded by the independent directors.

Oracle Adds Channel Expertise With LaRocca Hiring

Oracle is aggressively recruiting HP partners, and this week the company added longtime HP channel figure Tom LaRocca to its executive ranks. LaRocca joined Oracle this week as vice president of worldwide product strategy and alliances, according to his LinkedIn profile.

At HP, LaRocca was vice president of marketing and strategy in HP's Solution Partners Organization (SPO), where he oversaw all of the company's channel partnerships and initiatives.

"He certainly understands the channel and what motivates partners," John Convery, executive vice president of vendor relations and marketing at Denali Advanced Integration, a Redmond, Wash.-based HP partner, told CRN. " I think he'll bring a tremendous amount of expertise to Oracle."

Booming Smartphone Sales Propel Samsung To Sizzling Q3

Samsung is charging into next week's CES show with a full head of steam, exceeding analysts' estimates with a record $4.5 billion quarterly profit. Much of this comes from Samsung supplying mobile processors and OLED displays to other companies, including many of its competitors.

The future looks pretty bright too: Samsung overtook Apple in worldwide smartphone sales during the quarter, and Samsung is forecasting Q4 smartphone shipments of 35 million units. BNP Paribas and Korea Investment & Securities expect Samsung to sell on the order of 170 million smartphones in 2012.