Admittedly it was difficult to pay attention to all of the news in the technology industry his week – the news in the financial markets more than overshadowed it.

This week’s Web Week in Review has to touch on the financial crisis but there were other tech-only stories that did manage to make it onto my radar.

Central banks open taps to tackle market squeeze

Top central banks around the world flooded the market with cash this week.

The collapse of Lehman Brothers, the sale of Merrill Lynch, the bailout of AIG and the possible sale of Washington Mutual were the major highlights of a volatile week in the United States financial markets that saw some wild swings.

Technology companies, of course, have not been immune to the gyrations of the market.

Stock prices are easily detached from fundamentals in an environment like this, however, so it’s worth asking the question – are technology stocks victims of a volatile market or will technology companies be victims of the ongoing financial meltdown?

As Jeff Meisner of the E-Commerce Times points out, slowed consumer spending, slowed enterprise spending and liquidity challenges could all take their toll on the companies themselves – not just their stock prices.

In other words, it appears that technology companies do indeed have more to worry about than their stock prices.

Google to sell first branded phone for $199: report

iPhone or gPhone? Image-conscious techies will apparently be asking themselves this as a Google-branded mobile phone to be sold by T-Mobile is apparently on the way.

The phone will, of course, run Google’s highly-anticipated Android software.

While Android is interesting, I must admit that I’m quite skeptical about Google’s foray into the world of mobile phones and can only observe that the company risks adding yet another curious distraction to the mix – a mix that increasingly has it chasing growth in areas it has no tangible advantages in.

In other Google news:

  • The company has teamed up with GE to promote the development of renewable energy. The initiative includes a plan to lobby the US government “to modernize the electrical grid and collaborate in the development of technologies for plug-in vehicles and geothermal energy.

    Yet another distraction/pet project? You be the judge.

  • Google plans to move ahead with its search advertising deal with Yahoo – regulators be damned. Apparently Google is willing to fight.

Best Buy to acquire music-sharer Napster

In what some initially considered to be a curious move, US electronics retailer Best Buy acquired subscription music service Napster for just under $127mn.

The acquisition makes sense on paper – Best Buy has increasingly been moving into the digital content space, which it’s well positioned to do, and the retailer will get access to Napster’s more than 700,000 subscribers. It can, of course, also bundle Napster with the hardware it sells to consumers.

The real question – will the synergies between Best Buy and Napster grow Napster into something an asset worth more than Best Buy paid? If so, Best Buy may have made a smart investment. Time will tell.

Microsoft dumps hilarious comedy duo

Some relationships just aren’t built to last. That was the case for Redmond power duo Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld.

The duo’s commercials, part of Microsoft’s $300mn campaign to shore up its image, were largely criticized.

But was the decision to move to the “second phase” of the campaign without Seinfeld always part of the plan? According to Microsoft, yes.

Either way, Seinfeld will reportedly be replaced by actress Eva Longoria and hip-hop star Pharrell Williams. I wonder if they’ll be getting the same $10mn check Seinfeld is laughing all the way to the bank with.

Employers Use Social Nets to Weed Out Applicants Gone Wild

According to a survey of more than 3,000 employers conducted by, employers are increasingly checking social networks to perform “background checks” on job applicants.

The company says that 22% of companies included in the survey indicated that social networks are used to find out more about applicants and an additional 9% of companies surveyed indicated that they had plans to do this in the future.

For job hunters applying at firms using social networks in this fashion, there’s cause for concern if your lifestyle makes for less-savory lifestreaming. For those job hunters rejected because of information discovered during a social networking check, 41%, for instance, were rejected because their profiles revealed information about drinking and drug habits.

Of course, the results of this survey should not come as a surprise. The potential pitfalls of exposing your private life on the public internet have been obvious for some time.