Five Companies That Dropped The Ball This Week

Battery Woes Strike Apple iPhone 4S

Even though the iPhone 4S was released to the kind of glowing reviews and big sales we've come to expect for Apple products these days, the newest version of the popular smartphone has one fairly sizable blemish -- it drains battery life incredibly fast (read the CRN Test Center review of the iPhone 4S for more on the battery woes).

After a significant number of iPhone 4S customers complained of short battery life, Apple acknowledged there was a problem. According to a statement sent to news media outlets, Apple found "a few bugs that are affecting battery life" for iOS 5 devices and said a software update will be released "in a few weeks" to address the problem.

We're not sure what's more troubling -- that there's more than one bug affecting the iPhone 4S operating system or that early adopters and loyal fans may have to wait until after Thanksgiving for a fix.

Google Recalls Buggy Gmail App

Another tech giant and another embarrassing product bug this week. This time it's Google, which released a long-awaited Gmail app for the iPhone and iPad this week.

But just a few hours after launching the app Wednesday, Google was forced to remove the Gmail app from the iTunes App store because of a major bug that broke notifications and caused users to see an error message upon opening it. Google issued a statement saying it was working on a new, corrected version of the app that would be available "soon."

"Sorry we messed up," Google said on its Twitter feed. At press time, the Gmail app was still unavailable.

AMD Lays Off 10 Percent Of Workforce

The punches just keep on coming for AMD. After enduring a lengthy CEO search for much of the year and cutting its third-quarter guidance because of manufacturing issues, AMD said this week that it will lay off 10 percent of its workforce as part of a new restructuring plan.

AMD's struggles with cost-cutting and chip manufacturing have sadly overshadowed the company's new products, such as the Bulldozer-powered FX CPUs and Llano desktop chips. New AMD CEO Rory Read certainly has his work cut out for him.

Research In Motion Stalls As Stock Declines

Research In Motion's free fall continued this week as the company's stock fell below book value for the first time in nine years. Shares of RIM were still trading at close to $19 at press time Friday, but the drop in stock price was indicative of the smartphone maker's recent problems (such as the BlackBerry outage).

While RIM helped create the smartphone market years ago with the popular BlackBerry, the company has lost both market share and mind share to Apple's iPhone and a host of Android-powered devices. And while RIM released its BlackBerry PlayBook earlier this year to compete in the hot tablet market, the device was launched without dedicated e-mail, causing interest in the PlayBook to wane. RIM needs a plan to shake things up fast, but the company has been somewhat quiet on the strategy front, which has some concerned investors wondering whether RIM's management is "phoning it in."

Alcatel-Lucent Lowers Outlook As Uncertainty Looms

Alcatel-Lucent has undergone some big changes recently. The telecom company recently sold its Genesys business to a private equity firm for $1.5 billion to improve its cash flow, and it kept its enterprise networking business, which many speculated also would be sold.

But Alcatel-Lucent is still struggling to get itself back on track -- the company cut its profit forecast for 2011 and pushed back its goal of becoming cash-flow-positive until 2012. With a gloomy economic climate in Europe and a competitive telecom equipment market, Alcatel-Lucent looks like it has more than a few steep hills to climb as it restructures itself.