The second week of 2011 brought much controversy in both the public and private sectors. Controversy between Twitter and the federal government, a new battleground in the smartphone market and rumors surrounding the successes and failures of social media startups sparked diverse online conversation in business technology this week.
Twitter started the week off by publicizing much-discussed details on the federal government's investigation techniques. The social networking site played the role of whistleblower in the ongoing investigation of whistleblower Julian Assange, revealing that it was presented with a subpoena for WikiLeaks' Twitter account information, which came with a request from the federal government to keep quiet about the subpoena.
These requests are called "national security letters," 50,000 of which are sent every year as part of the highly controversial USA Patriot Act, according to the New York Times. WikiLeaks even alleged that Facebook and Google, among others, have complied with similar requests as part of the investigation, without informing the public.
These revelations didn't slow the government's new cyber security initiatives. White House officials announced the U.S. Commerce Department will spearhead the federal government's National Program Office and provide identity information for the Obama administration's National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace. Online searches for "National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace" spiked at the beginning of the week, with much of the industry responding to last Friday's announcement.
In the private sector, Verizon and Apple finally announced their much anticipated partnership. Speculation about a Verizon iPhone had lingered for years, with Tuesday's announcement finally bringing the two together. The announcement could help Apple stave off Google's Android operating system's rapid growth in the smartphone market, some of which is owed to AT&T's exclusivity of the iPhone and Verizon users' desire for a comparable smartphone.
AT&T responded to Verizon quickly and bluntly. The company published a statement on Facebook, declaring "the iPhone will continue to be a better experience with AT&T." At time of publication, more than 800 people Liked the statement on Facebook, while another 916 commented.
Facebook, meanwhile, had its own share of controversy this week, responding to rumors about the site shutting down in March. These rumors involved claims that CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the youngest self-made billionaire in history, wanted to "put an end to all the madness" because he "wants his old life back." Facebook's director of corporate communications, Larry Yu, confirmed on Monday that the rumors are false. Meanwhile, the company was also recently valued at $41.2 billion and just finished a $450 million funding initiative with international investors.
However, other social networking sites may not be so fortunate, with Myspace cutting nearly half of its staff, about 500 employees, and confirming rumors about its impending sale. Myspace spokeswoman Rosabel Tao told Bloomberg that News Corp., the company's owner, is "assessing a number of possibilities, including a sale, a merger and a spinout."
Myspace wasn't the only major technology company making headlines for letting workers go, with Microsoft saying goodbye to long-time employee and president of servers and tools division Bob Muglia, who will leave this summer. Even though Muglia's server division generated $15 billion in revenues in 2010, nearly a quarter of its overall revenues, his departure marks Microsoft's and CEO Steve Ballmer's legitimate devotion to the cloud, which will drive down server demand.
The controversy and competition is only expected to become more intense as these developments take shape. Keep listening, as the online conversation in business technology will only get louder.