5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

The Week Ending Jan. 9

This week's roundup of companies that had a rough week includes fallout from Verizon's planned cloud service outage, disappointing fourth-quarter sales results from Samsung, a warning of continued slow PC sales in 2015, signs that Windows XP isn't going away as fast as Microsoft would like and a Bitcoin exchange that was hacked.

Samsung Issues 4Q Operating Profit Warning

Samsung this week issued preliminary results for its just-ended fiscal fourth quarter, and the numbers aren't pretty.

The company estimated that sales for the quarter would be approximately 52 trillion Korean Won, down 12 percent year-over-year, with operating profit in the area of 5.2 trillion Korean Won, a 37 percent decrease. Website TechCrunch said that means Samsung's profit for the year will likely be 25 trillion Korean Won, the lowest in three years.

Samsung struggled to maintain momentum in 2014, especially in smartphones, where it lost market share. The poor fourth-quarter results don't bode well for 2015.

PC Makers Warned Of Continued Sluggish Sales In 2015

It's been a couple of tough years for PC manufacturers. And a Gartner report this week indicates that 2015 won't be any better.

Sales of traditional desk-based and notebook PCs will decline more than 7 percent this year to 259 million units worldwide. While sales of "ultramobile premium" devices will grow almost 59 percent to 62 million units, the overall PC market still will grow less than 1 percent in 2015. Sales of traditional PCs are forecast to decline another 4 percent in 2016 to 248 million units worldwide.

While sales of tablet computers are forecast to grow 8 percent this year to 233 million units, that's still far below the growth rates of the go-go years of tablet sales.

Windows XP Market Share Beats Windows 8.1 In December

Microsoft may have ended support for Windows XP nine months ago, but the desktop operating system just won't go away -- much to Microsoft's chagrin.

This week, two organizations that track the operating systems of Internet users discovered that in December, more were using Windows XP than Windows 8.1, the latest release of Microsoft's flagship software. NetMarketshare found that 18.6 percent of users were on Windows XP compared to only 9.49 percent for Windows 8.1. (Windows 7 led with 56.26 percent.) StatCounter put XP's December share at 13.21 percent and 13.01 percent for Windows 8.1.

The results could be a fluke: Observers noted that Windows XP is more prevalent in Asia and, with so many workers in North America and Europe off for the holidays, that could have skewed the results. Still, given its efforts to convince users to migrate to newer editions of Windows, Microsoft must be frustrated that XP is taking so long to disappear.

Verizon's Planned Two-Day Cloud Outage For Maintenance Angers Customers

Verizon will take its public cloud offline for much of the coming weekend for routine maintenance, a move that didn't please cloud customers who took to Twitter to criticize the company for needing two days for the job. Comments ranged from "how is this acceptable?" to "Upcoming Verizon cloud downtime may be wakeup call for some" to "This was a real shocker."

Verizon said the outage, scheduled to start at 1 a.m. ET Saturday, might not last the full 48 hours and that only 10 percent of all cloud customers would be impacted. "Updates of this nature typically require some system downtime, and we notified all potentially impacted customers in advance so they could plan accordingly," a Verizon spokesperson told CRN.

Hackers Steal Bitcoins Valued At $5 Million From European Exchange

Bitstamp, one of the largest traders in the Bitcoin digital currency, suspended trading activity this week after hackers stole an estimated 19,000 Bitcoins with a value of around $5 million.

The security breach occurred Sunday. The Slovenia-based exchange said the stolen Bitcoins represented only a small percentage of the digital currency it was holding online in an "operational wallet." The exchange said no customers would lose money because of the theft, according to a Reuters story.

Bitstamp said it has increased security and trading was expected to resume Friday. U.S. and European Union authorities were investigating the theft.