Business technology news roundup, April 8

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The battle over the smartphone market continued to rage this week, while two major cloud developments - one from a long-time industry mainstay and another from a relative newcomer - shaped the rest of the online conversations in business tech.

The battle over the smartphone market continued to rage this week, while two major cloud developments – one from a long-time industry mainstay and another from a relative newcomer – shaped the rest of the online conversations in business tech.

At the start of the week the industry witnessed how civil unrest abroad can impact even the largest tech companies in the United States. Amid the conflict in Libya, Microsoft is working to get its Libyan manager, Khalid Elhasumi, out of custody of Libyan authorities. According to a statement Microsoft released Wednesday, Elhasumi has been held against his will in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, since March 19. The company said it had no information as to the reason he was detained, and is currently working with international authorities to release him.

Business as usual carried on in the U.S. On Thursday, Facebook made a bold move in the cloud computing market with the introduction of its Open Compute Project, which brings visibility to the company’s first dedicated data center, located in Prineville, Oregon. Citing the success of its innovative data center design, Facebook is rolling out the first “open-source” data center design project to help others in the industry learn from what it has created.

Facebook’s innovative approach to servers and cloud services has long been praised because the website grew from founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard University dorm room to a $50 billion company. The social networking giant said it will publish technical specifications and release mechanical CAD files to “encourage industry-wide collaboration around best practices for data center and server technology.”

Meanwhile, Dell, formerly one of Facebook’s partners in data center design, is making its own moves to prolong its future in the cloud market. On Thursday, the long-time computer-maker announced a $1 billion investment in cloud technology “to help customers drive business results today and in the future.” The company said the $1 billion investment will take place during the current fiscal year and will build “multiple next-generation cloud data centers.”

At press time, Facebook is the focus of more online activity than Dell, with mentions of the term “Facebook Open Compute Project” appearing more frequently than “Dell invests $1 billion in cloud,” according to Google Realtime results.

These days, business tech news is nothing if it doesn’t include the mobile markets, and this week isn’t any different. Another research report emerged on the smartphone market this week, with Gartner once again painting an optimistic picture for Google’s future in the mobile sector. The research firm released a report on Thursday that predicts Android will consume nearly half of the worldwide smartphone operating system market share by the end of next year.

While Google’s share will climb to 49.2 percent by year-end 2012, Gartner said Nokia’s market share with its Symbian operating system will all but disappear, falling to 0.1 percent by 2015. Nokia’s new partnership with Microsoft, in which the former’s smartphones will abandon the Symbian OS for the latter’s Windows Phone platforms, will contribute to the demise of Nokia’s software, formerly the leader in the global market. The Microsoft/Nokia partnership will also launch Microsoft into the thick of the smartphone race, with Gartner predicting annual growth for the Redmond, Washington-based company to reach 19.5 percent market share by 2015.

Competition between high-profile manufacturers in the tablet market is getting ugly as well. According to an Associated Press report released Thursday, Samsung Electronics’ quarterly earnings were down significantly through the first three months of 2011, and Apple is to blame. Samsung is reporting earnings of more than $2.8 billion in the first three months of 2011, down from about $4 billion in the same period last year. After record-breaking 2010 sales and profits resulting from the Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets in 2010, Samsung can attribute its losses this year “to severe price competition” with the iPad, analyst Lee Min-hee told the Associated Press.

Each of these issues will have an impact on the future of the business tech industry. Keep your ears open as the online conversation gets louder.

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Colin NeagleColin Neagle is a former editor of Brafton's Business Technology section. He studied journalism, writing and mass communications in college, and has experience writing business news for a number of newspapers and online publications.
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