NEWS IN BRIEF
Daily Digest 21 December
by Emmet Cole
FDI falls in 2009 | Figure put on Twitter search deals
Ireland could face a penalty from the EU for not following correct procedure in the implementation of the EU-agreed Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) directive. Two years after EU member states adopted rules removing certain restrictions on digital TV over the internet, video on demand and mobile TV, only three countries -- Belgium, Romania and Slovakia -- have officially notified the European Commission of measures putting them in place. Under the AVMS directive, EU countries had until 19 December to turn the modernised rules for Europe's audiovisual industry into national law. The directive creates a single market for all audiovisual media services. Denmark, France, Luxembourg and the UK have notified the Commission of some measures taken to put the AVMS directive in place. Hungary's legislative process came to a complete halt after the draft law did not pass in Parliament. Meanwhile, the directive has been "partly put in place" by Austria, Germany, Ireland, Malta and the Netherlands without the Commission being notified. The Commission can open infringement proceedings against any EU country that fails to officially notify the Commission of measures taken to apply EU Directives in national law.
Meanwhile, the number of foreign direct investments (FDIs) won by the IDA dropped by 4 percent during 2009 and the average scale of investment was smaller than in previous years, according to the IDA's end-of-year statement. However, new companies investing in Ireland for the first time rose by 11 percent compared to 2008. The IDA won a total of 125 FDIs, with investments in Research, Development & Innovation reaching more than EUR500 million, accounting for 49 percent of all investments. Exports from IDA client companies increased to EUR110 billion. Companies investing in Ireland for the first time in 2009 included Bentley Systems, Big Fish Games, Lumension Security and Buy.com.
Northern Ireland's Enterprise Minister, Arlene Foster, has welcomed Friday's news that Avaya has acquired Nortel Networks' global Enterprise Division. Nortel Networks employs approximately 350 people in Northern Ireland. The minister said that the acquisition will see approximately 40 percent of the Monkstown workforce transfer to Avaya with immediate effect. The Minister said: "I am confident that moving forward a strong partnership can be formed with Avaya which will lead to the company recognising Northern Ireland as a competitive location from which to serve their European customer base and grow the scale and scope of international operations." The acquisition cost Avaya an estimated USD900 million. Avaya has a small R&D base in Sandyford, Dublin, while Nortel has had offices in Galway since 1973.
Shannon-based, US-owned Avocent International paid a dividend of USD28 million to its parent in 2008, despite reducing its Irish workforce by one-third in July of the same year, reports the Irish Times. According to the paper, new figures for 2008 also show an operating profit drop of 9 percent from USD24.2 million to USD22 million. The IT infrastructure management company paid a dividend of USD33 million in 2007. The company's 2008 profits were further hit by a 33 percent rise in operating expenses (from USD75 million to USD100 million) that year. The job cuts ended Avocent's R&D capability at its Shannon Free Zone base. The Huntsville, Alabama-headquartered company has more than 1,800 employees worldwide.
Google's proposed deal to acquire Yelp appears to have collapsed. The TechCrunch website, one of the first sites to break the story last week, reported on Monday that the deal is now off, with Yelp backing out over the weekend. Yelp is the market leader in user-generated reviews about local businesses in the US. On Friday, the Financial Times reported that Google was in advanced talks regarding the proposed USD500 million acquisition. The newspaper said the deal was 80 percent complete, but had not been finalised.
Mobile telecoms service provider O2 has launched a new service that allows O2 customers to receive up to 500 tweets for free per month via SMS. The new service also allows O2 customers to send and reply to tweets by text message using shortcode 51210 (with an EUR0.11/EUR0.09 (ex VAT) fee applying per text for prepay and postpay customers, respectively). David Hodgers, Head of Products & Services at Telefonica O2 Ireland, said: "We have seen a significant increase in O2 customers accessing social networking sites via their mobiles so it's timely that we are launching Twitter Messaging with Twitter text alerts."
Interactive education technology company Promethean announced on Monday that Irish membership of its online teacher community, 'Promethean Planet', has jumped 150 percent to nearly 5,500 members. According to the company, this means that Ireland has the fifth largest membership base in the world for Promethean Planet. The US, UK, Australia and France account for the first four places. Promethean Planet has nearly 500,000 members in more than 150 countries.
Finally, Business Week is reporting that one of the longest "Yes-but-will-it-make-money?" sagas in the tech industry is over, with news that micro-blogging site Twitter has finally generated some cash. The company apparently inked deals worth a total of USD25 million with Microsoft and Google to allow the companies display Twitter content in search results. According to the report, Twitter received USD15 million from Google and USD10 million from Microsoft. Twitter announced the deals with Google and Microsoft in October.