5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

The Week Ending Feb. 14.

This week's roundup of companies that had a bad week include Cisco's sales and earnings slump; IBM and Dell's server shipments decline; Microsoft's competitive setback against Google in the cloud applications war; Internet Explorer users who accessed the U.S. VFW site; and pretty much anything to do with Bitcoin.

Cisco Reports Big Drops In Q2 Sales, Profits

It wasn't entirely unexpected: Cisco had previously warned that weaknesses in its service provider business and in emerging markets would hurt sales and earnings. But that didn't take the sting out of this week's news that sales dropped almost 8 percent in the company's second fiscal quarter while net income plunged 54 percent.

Cisco said in November that second-quarter revenue would likely slide between 8 percent and 10 percent. And in December the company slashed its long-term growth outlook for the next three to five years. Cisco executives have blamed the slower sales in emerging markets to broader macroeconomic and political issues, while the service-provider business is undergoing product transitions. But the news wasn't all bad: The company reported growth in its data center business, including sales of its Unified Computing System converged infrastructure offerings.

Microsoft: Losing Ground In The Cloud Apps War?

CDW's deal to carry Google Apps for Business could be seen as a competitive blow for Microsoft, given that CDW has been a big national reseller of Microsoft's Office 365 cloud application suite. While CDW CEO Thomas Richards said during an earnings call the Google deal wouldn't impact his company's relationship with Microsoft, CDW's move isn't helping. Earlier this year, Microsoft cut the sales commissions it pays partners for selling Office 365 and other cloud products. Several solution providers speculated that move was one possible reason for CDW's embrace of Google. A CRN survey of solution providers found that some partners are turning to Google because of Microsoft's reduced commissions. Not that Microsoft is sitting still. A Microsoft document outlined a channel-focused sales and marketing campaign to recapture customers who switched to Google Apps.

IBM And Dell Hit With Declining Q4 x86 Server Sales

IDC's numbers for worldwide server shipments in the fourth quarter for 2013 are out, and the news isn't good for IBM and Dell.

IBM's x86 server shipments fell a whopping 20.3 percent in the fourth quarter, according to IDC. (Last month, IBM announced a deal to sell its x86 server business to Lenovo for $2.3 billion.) The news wasn't as bad for Dell, whose x86 server shipments fell 5.4 percent in the fourth quarter. But where there are losers, there are often winners. In this case, the winner is Hewlett-Packard, whose x86 server shipments grew 9 percent in the fourth quarter.

Attackers Exploit Flaw In Microsoft's Internet Explorer

A previously unknown flaw in the Internet Explorer 10 web browser is being used by hackers to attack Internet users, specifically visitors to the website of U.S. Veterans of Foreign Wars, according to a Reuters story.

Security firm FireEye discovered the attacks this week, the story said. Hackers broke into the veterans' website and inserted a link that redirected visitors to a malicious web page that contained infected code in Adobe Systems' Flash software. FireEye estimated that hundreds, or even thousands, of computers had been infected with the code. Reuters quoted a Microsoft spokesperson as saying the company was aware of the attacks and was investigating. The attacks apparently do not affect IE 11, the most recent release of the browser.

Bad Week For Bitcoin

Bitcoin, the once high-flying virtual currency, seemed to be getting it from all sides this week as its value fell to a nearly two-month low.

Several Bitcoin exchanges, including BitStamp, which handles the biggest volumes of Bitcoin trades, were hit with DDoS attacks this week that forced them to suspend processing Bitcoin withdrawals. Mt. Gox, a Tokyo-based Bitcoin exchange, halted trading after suffering a number of technical problems. And Silk Road, an online black market, was hit by a hacker who stole Bitcoins worth millions.

All this comes as Bitcoin skepticism and scrutiny are on the rise. Several countries, including Russia and Canada, have taken steps to toughen rules on virtual currency trading, citing fears it could be used for money laundering or terrorist financing.