5 Companies That Dropped The Ball This Week

Microsoft's Surface Tablet Failing To Attract Holiday Buyers

Well, well, well. It looks like Microsoft's decision to be the sole distribution outlet for Surface tablets may be backfiring, and one can almost hear the snickers of schadenfreude from Microsoft's OEM partners. Detwiler Fenton, a Boston-based brokerage firm, is predicting that Microsoft will probably sell between 500,000 and 600,000 Surface tablets in the current quarter, which would be a disappointing figure for a company that has spent so much money and resources in marketing its entry to the tablet hardware market.

"Lack of distribution is killing the product," Detwiler Fenton told All Things Digital by way of explanation. "Mixed reviews and a [$499] starting price tag certainly don't help, but lack of retail exposure at Best Buy and others is severely depressing sales."

VCE Partners Claim vBlock Marketing Message Getting Stale

While VCE has made significant progress with the channel in the past year, at least some of the partners involved are concerned about the future of the Cisco-EMC joint venture. Others feel VCE hasn't adjusted its marketing pitch to keep pace with competitors in the fast-moving converged infrastructure market. "The converged infrastructure bus has left already," a high-ranking executive at a national solution provider confided to CRN recently after VCE's recent partner conference. "They have to stop trying to define it and start marketing the software-defined, flexible data center. What we just heard from them is to redirect customers back to the same converged conversation they were asking us to have two years ago. It's a stale message for a company that needs 'fresh' really badly."

Twitter Responds Sluggishly To SMS Hijacking Vulnerability

When researcher Jonathan Rudenberg informed Twitter in August about a vulnerability in its SMS posting mechanism, the company asked him not to publish details of the flaw until it could ready a fix.

But three months later, after not hearing from Twitter despite repeated attempts to contact the company, Rudenberg went public with details on the vulnerability, which allows an attacker to break into user accounts via SMS and can be carried out by spoofing the telephone number associated with the SMS account.

"Like email, the originating address of SMS cannot be trusted," Rudenberg said in a blog post describing his discovery.

Google Denied In Bid To Block U.S Sales Of Microsoft Products

Google's attempts to wield its Motorola Mobility patents to block Microsoft from selling certain products -- a somewhat Machiavellian scheme for a company that professes to "do no evil" -- were foiled by a federal judge this week. As reported by Bloomberg, Judge James Robart of the U.S. District Court in Seattle reminded Google of its earlier pledge, made while it was petitioning regulators to let its $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility to go through, not to abuse the patent trove that came with the deal.

Intel Hit With Downgrades Over Murky CEO Succession Plan

Intel CEO Paul Otellini's (pictured) retirement is throwing a monkey wrench into the company's outlook, at least as far as investors are concerned. This week UBS analyst Steven Eliscu cut his rating on Intel shares from "buy" to "neutral" and slashed his price target from $29 to $21.50, as reported by the Financial Post.

Last week, analysts at Citigroup and Goldman Sachs also lowered their target prices for Intel shares. Otellini recently said it's likely his successor will come from within the company, so we'll have to wait and see if that calms the apprehension on Wall Street about the chip maker's future.