Five Companies That Dropped The Ball This Week

Research Points To Weak Windows Phone Sales For Microsoft

Microsoft is facing a double-whammy of declining PC sales and a lackluster mobile business, according to new data from Gartner this week. The research firm predicts PC shipments will drop from 315 million in 2013 to 272 million in 2017. Meanwhile, tablet shipments will jump from 197 million this year to 468 million in 2017. Smartphone shipments, which came in at 1.9 billion units in 2012, will tick up to 2.1 billion units this year, according to Gartner.

Microsoft's old cash cow is slowing down, and i's new cash "calf," if you will, isn't anywhere near being ready to pick up the slack. "Winning in the tablet and phone space is critical for [Microsoft] to remain relevant in this shift," Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi told The Guardian.

Dell Shares Hammered In Wake Of Bleak Proxy Filing

In a preliminary proxy filing last week, Dell acknowledged numerous challenges to its business, including declining PC sales industrywide, combined with growing smartphone and tablet sales.

The Blackstone Group and Icahn Enterprises have made alternative acquisition proposals to Dell's proposed $24.4 billion leveraged buyout by Silver Lake Partners. Whoever ends up getting Dell might decide these challenges are too much to overcome.

Apple's New Headquarters Running Late, Over Budget

Apple's budget for its new corporate campus is apparently getting out of hand, growing from $3 billion in 2001 to close to $5 billion currently, according to anonymous sources quoted in a report from Bloomberg Businessweek.

The extra $2 billion could buy 5 million 8-GB iPads, if you're keeping track.

Apple also was supposed to move into its new digs in 2015, but that has been pushed back to 2016, the sources said in the article.

BlackBerry Brunt Of April Fools' Tablets Hoax

Remember the PlayBook, BlackBerry's ill-fated bid to establish itself in the tablet market? That didn't work out so good, but this week it looked like the beleaguered mobile device vendor was getting ready to give tablets another go.

A purportedly leaked BlackBerry road map slide surfaced on the @BB10Leaks account on Twitter, showing a full-size BlackBerry 10-based tablet scheduled for a third-quarter release. It also showed smaller tablet models or "phablets."

Not long after, @BB10Leaks tweeted "Happy April Fools," capping one of the most effective tech industry hoaxes in recent memory.

Nokia Shutters Huge Retail Store In China

Nokia has shut down a massive retail store in Shanghai, China, and says it's going to be stepping up sales online and through third parties, as reported by ZDNet. China is obviously a huge market for all mobile device vendors, and Shanghai is China's most populous city.

"For a while now, Nokia has been focusing on growing its presence in operator and third-party retail outlets, rather than through our own physical stores," a Nokia rep told Cnet. "We are, of course, also continuously beefing up our online presence."