5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

The Week Ending Aug. 23

This week wasn't kind to Amazon.com and Apple, both of which suffered cloud blackouts. Also, an ambitious crowdfunding campaign for a new smartphone falls short for Canonical, Facebook takes blame for a bug, and a probe into Microsoft reportedly reaches Russia and Pakistan.

Amazon.com Suffers Potentially Costly Blackout

It wasn't a good way to start the week for Amazon.com, which suffered an outage that reports ranged from between 15 and 40 minutes Monday at approximately 4:00 pm EST. According to VentureBeat, the outage affected Amazon's main website in the U.S. and Canada. Country-specific sites were not affected.

The Puget Sound Business Journal estimated that the site being down for 40 minutes would cost Amazon $4.72 million in lost sales, based on the company’s average sales rate of $117,882 per minute. Amazon customers from Connecticut to Seattle passed the time during the outage by tweeting under the #Amazondown hashtag.

Apple iCloud Blackout Affects Millions

Amazon wasn't the only Internet giant to suffer an outage this week. According to multiple reports, Apple's iCloud service went offline Thursday morning and, according to Apple, users may have been unable to use iCloud Documents, Photo Stream, iPhoto Journals, Backup & Restore or download attachments in iMessage.

Apple's online support system indicated that less than 1 percent of users were affected by the outage. However, when your customer base is more than 300 million users, that means nearly 3 million people were left in the dark.

Ubuntu Edge Falls Well Short of Fundraising Goal

British software company Canonical's attempts to raise $32 million for the Ubuntu Edge smartphone failed Thursday, even as the company set a world record for the biggest crowdfunding campaign.

Canonical raised $12,809,906 in the 30 days the campaign was open, including an $80,000 donation from Bloomberg. However, because the fundraising goal was not met, all money raised will now be refunded.

Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth remained positive in a post on the fundraising site Indiegogo.

"While we passionately wanted to build the Edge to showcase Ubuntu on phones, the support and attention it received will still be a huge boost as other Ubuntu phones start to arrive in 2014," he wrote. "Thousands of you clearly want to own an Ubuntu phone and believe in our vision of convergence, and rest assured you won’t have much longer to wait."

Facebook Takes Blame In Bug Report

Facebook has spent more than $1 million on a bug bounty program that compensates researchers who report issues. One such researcher, Khalil Shreateh, demonstrated a bug that allowed a user to post on anyone's Facebook wall, even if the person was not friends with the user. After Facebook ignored the report, Shreateh upped the ante. He posted on CEO Mark Zuckerberg's wall.

He gained the social network's attention. Joe Sullivan, Facebook's chief security officer, wrote in a blog post that the company was "too hasty and dismissive" in Shreateh's case. However, Sullivan said that Shreateh still wouldn't be compensated for his report.

"We will not change our practice of refusing to pay rewards to researchers who have tested vulnerabilities against real users," he wrote. "It is never acceptable to compromise the security or privacy of other people."

Microsoft Bribe Probe Extends to Russia, Pakistan

A federal probe into allegations that business partners of Microsoft bribed foreign government officials has extended into Russia and Pakistan, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Journal reported last year that lawyers from the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission were investigating allegations that a Microsoft representative was receiving kickbacks in China, as well as similar questionable dealings in Romania and Italy.

According to the Journal, an anonymous tipster informed Microsoft that resellers in Russia allegedly funneled kickbacks to executives of a state-owned company to secure a deal. Another tipster in Pakistan alleged that Microsoft authorized a consulting firm to pay for a foreign trip for a government official and his wife to win a deal.

So far, no charges have been filed and the government hasn't publicly accused Microsoft of any wrongdoing.