Management changes took center stage in the third quarter, with HP ditching its chief executive after less than a year in the job, and sweeping changes announced at the top of EverythingEverywhere, the UK joint venture between Orange and T-Mobile.
Hewlett Packard replaced Leo Apotheker with former eBay guru Meg Whitman, claiming it needed fresh blood to execute a new strategic direction. While Whitman said she would carry on with her predecessor’s strategy, her appointment raised immediate concerns over the future of the firm’s mobile WebOS software, which were eventually settled in the fourth quarter when the firm announced the platform will be made open source.
Sweeping management changes were also afoot at EverythingEverywhere, with Olaf Swantee named as the replacement for original chief executive Tom Alexander, who resigned. The new boss wasted no time establishing himself in the role, ditching six of the original ten board members in favor of new blood as he sought to overturn falling earnings in 1H11.
Yahoo also took radical action during the quarter, axing chief Carol Bartz following a difficult 32-month tenure that saw the firm’s core advertising business enter a period of decline, the departure of key engineering staff, and little or no improvement to the firm’s stock price.
In an unusual outburst following her sacking, Bartz branded Yahoo’s board “doofuses” who “f****d me over.” The criticism may have cost the former chief a $10 million (€7.6 million) golden handshake by breaching a non-disclosure agreement.
Acquisition was the name of the game for Google, which detailed plans to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. The move was regarded as a bid to shore up Google’s Android operating system against a raft of Apple patent litigation, by bringing Motorola’s huge wireless device patent stack into play.
Google also sold nine wireless patents to Android device maker HTC, to arm the vendor in a fight with Apple. The sale raised the prospect of a direct fight between Google and Apple that has, so far, failed to materialize.
The search giant also launched a mobile payment service during the quarter. The NFC-based Google Wallet went live in the US, using modified 4G handsets from carrier Sprint.
Plans for a mobile payment joint venture by O2, Vodafone and EverythingEverywhere were challenged by rival Three UK, which appealed to the European Commission to scuttle the project. Three claimed the other operators deliberately excluded it from their plans, which will impact its ability to compete.
Nokia and Siemens were forced to inject an extra €500 million each into struggling infrastructure joint venture Nokia Siemens Networks, after attempts to attract private investors failed. The infrastructure firm subsequently announced a restructure aimed at cutting costs by €1 billion.
Intel put the final nail in the coffin of MeeGo, the smartphone operating system it developed in conjunction with Nokia, by revealing it will lead development of Linux-based Tizen in conjunction with Samsung.
And RIM pledged to assist UK authorities to trace rioters who used the vendor’s BlackBerry Messenger service to organize themselves. Executives said UK laws obligated the firm to reveal the details – running the risk of infuriating authorities in India and Indonesia which have demanded such access for over a year.