Five Companies That Dropped The Ball This Week

HP In Cost-Cutting Mode After Profit, Revenue Drops In Q1

HP CEO Meg Whitman's first full fiscal quarter as CEO illustrated the magnitude of the challenges she faces in getting the $127 billion IT giant back on course. HP's first-quarter profit dropped 44 percent and revenue fell 7 percent, and Whitman said the company's financial situation has reached a point where cost cutting will, for the near term at least, take priority over long-term strategic investments.

Whitman, of course, didn't create this mess, but it's hers to clean up, and she intends to cut HP's number of product SKUs, upgrade customer-facing sales systems, optimize supply chain and streamline internal business processes. Like her predecessor Leo Apotheker, Whitman also pointed to HP's lack of R&D in recent years as one of the reasons behind the company's current predicament.

Microsoft Denies Office For iPad Report, Then Clams Up

A report that Microsoft is working on a version of Office for the iPad, which included a screen shot of the purported product, sent the Internet into a tizzy. But Microsoft quickly dismissed the report as "inaccurate rumors and speculation" and said as much in a clipped-sounding post to Twitter. Microsoft also said the screen shot was not a real Microsoft product.

The plot thickened when The Daily, which published the report, insisted that the screen shot was genuine and that a Microsoft employee had demoed the app in front of their very eyes. Microsoft declined further comment, but as industry watchers have noted, the company didn't deny that it's building an Office for iPad product.

T-Mobile USA Hammered By Subscriber Defections In Q4

T-Mobile USA lost 802,000 contract customers in its fiscal fourth quarter and saw its revenue fall 3.3 percent to $20.6 billion. These figures aren't shocking in light of the failed AT&T merger, but they raise questions about T-Mobile's future as a going concern.

T-Mobile, for its part, is soldiering on with plans to spend the $3 billion AT&T breakup fee, as well as a significant chunk of its own money, to build out its 4G LTE network by next year, which would put it in position to offer the data-gobbling iPhone and Android smartphones.

Dell's Profit Falls 18 Percent in Q4 On PC Market Headwinds

Dell's fourth-quarter net income dropped 18 percent to $764 million, or 43 cents a share, an 18 percent drop from the $927 million, or 48 cents a share, it reported during the year-ago quarter. Revenue ticked up 2 percent to $16 billion.

Dell had a solid fiscal 2012 overall as it looks to become more of a business- and data center-oriented company. But its weak guidance for next quarter -- Dell expects first-quarter revenue to drop 7 percent sequentially -- didn't go over well with investors, who sent shares down 5 percent in the wake of the announcement.

Google's iTunes Competitor Stumbling Out Of The Gate

Google Music, the search giant's online music service that's aimed at the 200 million-strong Android device user base, is falling short of expectations three months after its release, Cnet reported this week. While it's still early days for Google Music, it's also possible that Apple has already achieved an unassailable advantage in the digital music space.