5 Companies That Dropped The Ball This Week

Microsoft Lets Best Buy Sell Surface Tablet, But Not Channel Partners

From a Microsoft channel partner's perspective, what's worse: Not being allowed to sell the Surface tablet, or seeing a loathed big-box retailer get that privilege?

That's what happened this week when Microsoft, in a slight widening of its initial Surface tablet distribution plan, began letting Best Buy and Staples carry the device. Microsoft says it's boosting production of Surface tablets, so perhaps this is a case of it needing more distribution hands on deck. Or, it could be that Surface sales through Microsoft stores and kiosks aren't cutting it, and the software giant is turning to companies that specialize in moving computing equipment.

Police In Australia Warn Against Using Apple Maps

The Apple Maps fiasco veered into comedy after police in the Australian state of Victoria warned citizens of the perils of relying on Apple's glitch-ridden Maps app for navigational purposes. According to Apple Maps, the city of Mildura (population 30,000) is situated in the middle of a national park, some 40 miles from where it is actually located. As noted by CNN, police are telling Australian citizens to be aware of what they described as a "potentially life-threatening issue" given the extreme heat that often bakes this part of the country.

HP Drama Rekindled After Apotheker's Autonomy Comments

Just when the drama around Heweltt-Packard seemed to be subsiding, former CEO Leo Apotheker (pictured) decided to chime in by shifting blame for the disastrous $11.1 billion Autonomy acquisition to HP's board of directors. "No single CEO is ever able to make a decision on a major acquisition in isolation, particularly at a company as large as HP -- and certainly not without the full support of the chairman of the board," Apotheker said in a statement sent to Bloomberg. "The HP board, led by its chairman, met many times to review the acquisition and unanimously supported the deal, as well as the underlying strategic objective to bolster HP's market presence in enterprise data."

Sure sounds like Apotheker is pointing the finger at HP board chairman Ray Lane here.

Google Drive, Gmail Services Disrupted In Latest Cloud Service Outage

Google blamed a cloud service outage that took down Gmail, Drive and other offerings on a "routine" update that included some glitch-ridden software, according to a report from Wired. The outage was brief, but Wired reported that it affected around 40 percent of Google's users. "Between 8:45 AM PT and 9:13 AM PT, a routine update to Google’s load balancing software was rolled out to production," Google said in a bulletin to Google Apps customers. "A bug in the software update caused it to incorrectly interpret a portion of Google data centers as being unavailable."

Yet another example of the precarious nature of cloud services and the tendency for people to think they're somehow impervious to the software bugs that have long plagued traditional, non-cloud computing.

Alcatel-Lucent Loses Patent Ruling To Apple, LG

A federal court jury in California ruled against Alcatel-Lucent in its patent infringement case against Apple and LG over video compression technology. Alcatel-Lucent was seeking $172 million from Apple and $9.1 million from LG, according to Bloomberg.