5 Companies That Dropped The Ball This Week

VMware COO Dismisses Amazon As 'Company That Sells Books'

At VMware's Partner Exchange conference this week, COO Carl Eschenbach challenged his audience to take the fight to Amazon in the public cloud space, noting that he finds it "really hard to believe that we cannot collectively beat a company that sells books." Executives say all kinds of things at partner conferences. Still, it's a ridiculous comment for Eschenbach to make considering the disruptive role Amazon has played in the cloud space and the size of its public cloud business. Macquarie Securities Group, an Australia-based firm, estimated earlier this year that Amazon Web Services had $2 billion in revenue in 2012, and it's on track for $3.8 billion this year.

If VMware really sees Amazon as nothing more than a book seller, VMware partners could be in for a rough ride on the road to cloud computing.

Google's Sergey Brin Calls Smartphones 'Emasculating'

Google co-founder Sergey Brin has a bizarre way of explaining the effect smartphone usage is having on him. "You're actually socially isolating yourself with your phone," Brin said at the TED Conference in Long Beach, Calif., as reported by Wired. "I feel like it's kind of emasculating. ... You're standing there just rubbing this featureless piece of glass."

Not only do Brin's comments carry a whiff of sexism, they're also somewhat self-defeating for a company that develops one of the leading mobile operating systems. While Brin used this description to illustrate why the user interface of Google Glass is better, his PR handlers probably weren't thrilled about his choice of words.

Cisco Accused Of Selling Unneeded Routers To State Of West Virginia

Officials with the State of West Virginia are accusing Cisco of talking them into buying routers that were far more powerful -- and expensive -- than what the state needed for an IT infrastructure upgrade project, according to a report from Ars Technica. West Virginia officials contend that a Cisco engineer assigned to the project steered them into buying nearly 1,200 of its new 3945 series routers, which cost more than $20,000 each, when the state's needs could have been met with less sophisticated routers. Cisco claims it was merely following the state's directions, but this case has potential PR disaster written all over it.

Microsoft Suffers Outlook.com Outage, Doesn't Inform Users

Microsoft is shutting down Hotmail and moving users over to its Outlook.com cloud email service, but an outage this week could slow its progress. Hey, outages happen, but users were especially peeved that Microsoft didn't alert them to what was going on. Microsoft later acknowledged the outage and said it affected only a small number of users, but in the cloud, communication is key, and it didn't happen this time.

Samsung Loses Bid To Ban iPhone, iPad Sales In Japan

In the latest chapter of the battle between Apple and Samsung, the Tokyo District Court rejected Samsung's attempt to block sales of iPhones and iPads in Japan over patent infringement issues. According to a report from Bloomberg, the judge in the case ruled Samsung has not negotiated "sincerely" with Apple over the licensing of mobile patents used in the products and has no grounds for seeking damages.