Five Companies That Dropped The Ball This Week

Verizon Scares Customers With 'Civil Emergency' Text

Verizon Wireless this week sent a mass text message to customers in New Jersey that warned of a "civil emergency" and urged them to "take shelter now." Understandably, 911 and local police and government agencies were flooded with calls from panicked citizens trying to figure out what was happening. Local police responded with another mass text informing residents that the message was a false alarm.

"This test message was not clearly identified as a test," Verizon spokesman David Samberg told

HP Again Incurs Wrath Of TouchPad-Hungry Masses

<a data-cke-saved-href="-" href="-"" http:="""" news="" index.ssf="" 2011="" 12="" verizon_says_civil_emergency_a.html="" "="" target="_blank">HP held another TouchPad fire sale last weekend, but gave first crack to employees. As with previous TouchPad sales and promotions, interest in the bargain basement TouchPads was off the charts, and supplies were quickly exhausted. Both eBay and Paypal were reportedly overwhelmed by the wave of customer traffic, and in the end, many would-be TouchPad customers in the general public were once again left empty handed.

HP, after its initial TouchPad fire sale in September, said it would make one final production run of TouchPads, but left distribution up to its retail partners, which turned around and sold them as part of higher priced bundles with accessories. This sort of thing can't be good for HP's brand loyalty, at least judging from the angry customer response that has become a common feature of these sales.

Microsoft Mocks Android, Despite Own Mobile Struggles

Microsoft this week reached out to Android users on Twitter with the offer of free Windows Phone smartphones, in an effort to highlight Android's security and technical shortcomings. But in an ironic bit of timing, Microsoft also found itself dealing with an SMS-related security vulnerability that could enable denial of service attacks on Windows Phone 7.5 devices.

Details also emerged about Microsoft's recent Windows Phone leadership reshuffle that suggests the company is growing tired of its slow progress in the mobile space. Microsoft's decision to replace Windows Phone Chief Andy Lees with Windows Phone Engineering Lead Terry Myerson constituted a demotion, The Verge reported this week, citing internal sources.

RIM Disappoints Street With Declining BlackBerry Shipments

RIM dished up another round of bad news to investors this week in its third quarter earnings. Profits fell 27 percent, and RIM's holiday quarter BlackBerry sales forecast of between 11 million and 12 million units was more than 2 million fewer than last year's holiday quarter.

RIM also said it doesn't expect to launch its QNX-based BlackBerry 10 smartphone line until "the latter part of 2012," after earlier indications that it would do so in the first quarter. RIM said it added 5 million subscribers during the quarter, but that wasn't enough to stop investors from sending shares tumbling in the wake of the company’s latest depressing financials.

Google Pulls Malware-Ridden Games From Android Market

Google pulled more than a dozen fake Android games containing malware from its mobile application marketplace, but not before some 10,000 customers downloaded them, security vendor Sophos reported this week.

Android malware is a growing concern for Google, and Sophos called out the search giant for the ease with which malicious developers can create free fakes of popular games to entice the Android smartphone and tablet users.

"Google's reaction has been quick, but not quick enough," Vanja Svajcer, principal virus researcher for Sophos, said in a blog post.

Check out our roundup of vendors that came to win this week for a look at the companies that really brought their 'A' game.