5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

The Week Ending Jan. 16

This week's roundup of companies that had a rough week includes a plunge in sales at the Intel Mobile and Communications Group, a key executive departure from the Hewlett-Packard Printer and Personal Systems Group, Marriott's capitulation to criticism about its efforts to block guests' Wi-Fi devices, questions about the future of Google Glass, and a class-action settlement that will cost some big IT vendors million of dollars.

Intel Continues To Struggle In Mobile

Intel reported this week that revenue generated in 2014 by its Mobile and Communications Group, which develops processors for mobile phones and tablet computers, plunged 85 percent to $202 million from $1.38 billion in 2013. The group's operating loss for the year was a whopping $4.2 billion.

The chip giant's poor showing in the mobile arena tarnished an otherwise strong financial fourth quarter and full year, both of which saw revenue grow by 6 percent. The company's PC and data center groups reported strong Q4 growth, as did Intel's nascent Internet of Things Group.

Marriott Promises Not To Block Customers' Wi-Fi Devices

Marriott International ran up the white flag this week, promising not to block guests from using personal Wi-Fi devices inside the company's hotels. Marriott's decision follows a barrage of criticism that hit the hotel chain when it and the American Hospitality and Lodging Association asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to block Wi-Fi devices on hotel properties.

Some guests use the personal Wi-Fi devices to connect their computers to the Internet through cellular service companies. Marriott proposed blocking the devices, saying they wanted to prevent hackers from establishing malicious hot spots, said a ReCode story. But angry customers saw the move as a way to force guests to use the hotel's Wi-Fi services. A group called Care2 launched a campaign to convince the FCC to deny Marriott's proposal.

In October the FCC fined Marriott $600,000 for blocking personal Wi-Fi devices at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, which Marriott owns.

HP Printing And Personal Systems Exec Leaves For Apple Job

This week word got out that 20-year Hewlett-Packard veteran John Solomon, most recently general manager of the company's consumer printing global business unit, had departed to become Apple's new vice president of enterprise and government.

Such executive comings-and-goings are par for the course in the IT industry. But Solomon's exit is more worrisome for HP given that the company is in the process of splitting into two Fortune 50 companies, target date Nov. 1. The Personal and Printing Group will become its own company and needs veteran managerial expertise to make it work.

Several solution providers see Solomon's departure as a worrisome sign that HP execs are on the lookout for their best career option -- even if it's not with HP.

Can You See A Future For Google Glass?

Google this week said the company is ending its Google Glass Explorer Program in its Google(x) labs and will halt sales of the Google Glass Explorer Edition to individuals as of Jan. 19.

The announcement, made in a blog posted Thursday, was titled "We're graduating from Google(x) labs." But the blog was vague about where Google Glass goes from here other than to say the team working on the technology would continue outside Google(x), and everyone can expect "to see future versions of Glass when they're ready."

A number of news reports about Google's move painted a dire portrait for the future of the much-hyped Google Glass.

Apple, Google, Others To Pay $415 Million To Settle Anti-Poaching Lawsuit

Four Silicon Valley giants have agreed to cough up $415 million to settle a 64,000-person class-action lawsuit that charged Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe with secretly agreeing not to poach each others' employees.

According to a Reuters story, the employees brought the suit charging that by conspiring not to hire away each others' workers, the companies limited employee mobility and were able to keep salaries lower.

While the companies had previously agreed to settle the case for $324.5 million, the plaintiffs in the case had demanded a new trial. That led to the new settlement for the reported $415 million, Reuters said.