Five Companies That Dropped The Ball This Week

Power Outage Takes Down Amazon Web Services For Six Hours

Amazon was hit with a power outage that rendered its Elastic Compute Cloud, Amazon Relational Database Service and AWS Elastic Beanstalk services unavailable for around six hours last Thursday. Amazon did communicate with its customers, but the outage -- as all cloud outages do -- disrupted the operations of its service provider partners and once again highlighted the growing pains the industry is going through during these formative years of cloud computing.

Microsoft Risks Irking OEM Partners With Surface, Windows Phone 8

It was a seismic, exciting week for Microsoft, but its OEM partners could be forgiven for feeling a bit queasy given the impact of everything that went down.

First, Microsoft unveiled its Surface tablet, which features hardware and software of its own design -- a sleek, vertically integrated package that represents its first-ever foray into hardware. OEM partners didn't have much to say about Surface and Microsoft didn't mention anything about the channel selling it, which might not sit well.

Microsoft also said that users of Nokia Lumia 900 and other Windows Phone 7.5 devices won't be able to upgrade to Windows Phone 8. Unless Microsoft informed Nokia beforehand, this was a major gut punch for the struggling Finnish handset maker.

Verizon CEO: Shared Data Plans 'Easier' For Customers

Verizon's new Share Everything plans, which will amount to a major price hike for at least some customers, came at the suggestion of customers seeking a single, unified data bucket for their smartphones and tablets, according to CEO Lowell McAdam.

"Customers have been telling us for years, 'I don't want to have a separate account for my iPad or for the four appliances in my house.' It's a sea change," McAdam said Wednesday at the Guggenheim Securities 2012 TMT Symposium as reported by FierceWireless. "This, I think, dramatically changes how people feel about their devices. The usage moves around. They don't have to think about it. It just makes life so much easier for them."

The same pricing plan is eventually going to become the only option that any of the carriers offer. So get ready for the easiness.

Fake Microsoft Word App Makes Way Into Apple's App Store

Apple takes a lot of heat for rejecting apps for being too controversial or for not complying with its terms. But the efficiency of its app review process is in the spotlight after a fake Microsoft Word app somehow made its way into the App Store, according to a report from BetaNews.

What's funny about the incident is that the so-called Microsoft Word 2012 app, which sold for $9.99 before being pulled down, included this grammatically challenged description:

"Every modern person some time or other is faced with Microsoft Office Word. However not everyone knows it to perfection! How quickly can you page numbering? How about adding and changing the page header? If takes more than a minute, this program is for you! Now you always have a list of tips which makes any Microsoft Office task easy and simple."

Oracle's North American Sales Chief Gone, Hardware Sales Lagging

Oracle had a turbulent week: First, word leaked that Keith Block, head of Oracle's North America business, was gone from the company, this after he wrote messages critical of Oracle management and the company's acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

Oracle then saw fit to issue its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings results three days early, which were a mixed bag: Fourth-quarter software license sales jumped 7 percent to $4 billion, but hardware sales fell 16 percent to $977 million.