IN THE PAPERS
In The Papers 28 March
Mobile users switch providers at record rate | ZAGG to create 300 jobs in Shannon region
The Irish Times reports that Gardai are investigating whether phones at the Moriarty tribunal were tapped in the weeks running up to the publication of its report. The investigation is centred on the phone of tribunal chairman Justice Michael Moriarty and follows concern within the inquiry that private information may have been accessed by a third party. Meanwhile, Persona, the group that was runner-up to Denis O'Brien's consortium in the competition for the second mobile phone licence has called on the State to refund the expenses of all the unsuccessful bidders.
The paper also says that internet gambling software firm Cryptologic is considering the possibility of a sale of all or part of the business, under a strategic review. The Dublin-headquartered company said it had asked Deloitte Corporate Finance to assist with a strategic review of the business, which lost EUR14 million last year. In a statement, it said that the review "will consider a number of strategic options, including the possibility of an offer being made for the company or a disposal of part of the business". It added that the board stressed that there can be no certainty that it will attract any offers.
The Irish Independent says that more than 1,000 mobile phone customers a day are switching to different providers in a bid to get a better deal. The record switching level comes as official figures show Irish mobile charges remain above the European average for most customers. ComReg's Irish Communications Market report shows that changing providers in Ireland is at its highest level ever, with a record 352,140 customers jumping ship last year to get a better deal.
The paper also notes that Irish stores sold out of Apple's iPad 2 less than 90 minutes after they went on sale on Friday. The tablet device is unlikely to be back on the shelves for some time as people are now pre-ordering it.
The Irish Examiner says that Salt Lake City-based ZAGG will establish a European Services Centre in the Shannon Free Zone, creating 300 jobs by the end of 2014. The mobile communications accessory manufacturer and distributor is preparing a EUR50 million investment in its new operation. ZAGG chief financial officer Brandon O'Brien said Ireland's 12.5 percent corporate tax rate is not the primary reason why the company is setting up in Shannon, though it is "a nice cherry on top". He said "the real reason we have opened that facility is to better be able to serve the European markets".
According to the Financial Times, Facebook is trying to entice a new generation of advertising executives to tap consumers' emotions through social advertising, rather than obsessing over the traditional clicks and conversion rates. The social networking group will launch a site early next month for creative advertising agencies called Facebook Studio, an online catalogue where the ad world's top teams can share and comment on the best Facebook ad campaigns.
The paper also says that Taiwanese PC maker Acer has warned that sales in its first quarter would fall short of expectations, highlighting the continued weakness in demand in Europe and the US and the growing popularity of new mobile devices such as tablets. The company said PC revenues were 10 percent lower than in the fourth quarter, during which Acer had already suffered an 11 percent year-on-year fall in revenues.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Google is teaming up with MasterCard and Citigroup to embed technology in Android devices that would allow consumers to make purchases by waving their smartphones in front of a small reader at the checkout counter, according to sources. The planned payment system would allow Google to offer retailers more data about their customers and help them target ads and discount offers to mobile device users near their stores, the sources said. Google is not expected to get a cut of the transaction fees.
The Sunday Business Post reports that Edinburgh-based travel technology firm Skyscanner, which is chaired by Irish entrepreneur Ray Nolan, has logged over 1 million downloads of its app in the first 35 days after its launch. The app allows users to search and compare air fares, as well as book flights.
The paper also says there has been a recent surge of business for London art and antiques firm Valuemystuff.com from Ireland. The firm has around 30,000 clients, 10 percent of whom are based in Ireland.
The same paper reports that the Government could save over EUR1 billion if it combines the installation of electricity smart meters and ultra high speed broadband in Irish homes, according to John Holland, head of new business and innovation at Sony Ericsson. He said there was a "once in a lifetime opportunity" to install the two systems simultaneously.
The paper also reports that a new syndicate of angel investors has been announced by the Halo Business Angels Network called TechExecs. The network will have EUR2 million to invest in technology-based start ups.
Also in the Sunday Business Post, Galway-based medical devices firm Crospon has signed an agreement with Israeli company Smart Medical Systems.
The paper also says that Irish gaming firm PopCap Games has raised EUR141,000 for the international Red Cross to aid the Japanese earthquake relief efforts. It donated all of revenues from the sale of its games on Apple's App Store for a 48-hour period.
According to the same paper, NewBay has announced the latest release of LifeCache Notifier; Wavebob has announced a research collaboration with Spanish tech firm Abehgoa; and e-Net has widened its partnership with WiMax provider Imagine in a number of towns.
The paper also reports that the market for trade sales of Irish technology companies has begun to pick up over the past year and further exits could be on the cards in the coming months, according to Fergus Bolster, partner at corporate law firm Matheson Ormsby Prentice.
The Sunday Independent, Sunday Times and Sunday Business Post all carry extensive coverage of the Moriarty Report.