IN THE PAPERS
In The Papers 7 December
Tech IPOs on the rise | Intel ditches Larrabee plans
The Irish Independent reports that patented technologies owned by Bord na Mona generated EUR3 million for the firm in the first nine months of this year. The specially adapted technologies use peat and seashells to reduce strong odour emissions. Bord na Mona's Monashell clean-air technology is being used by firms in the UK, Italy, France, Spain, Hong Kong and more recently in the US. The peat company promised last July to create 300 jobs over the next few years -- mainly in green technology. It plans to invest €300m in green businesses over the next five years.
According to the Irish Examiner, despite the introduction of airport-style security in all prisons and mobile phone blocking systems in three jails, official figures reveal that 1,685 mobile phones have been seized in prisons up until August of this year. This compares with 2,047 for the whole of 2008 and 2,117 for 2007.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has acquired online music company Lala Media for an undisclosed sum. Lala lets users pay USD0.10 for permanent access to "web songs" that can be streamed via a web browser but cannot be downloaded to a user's computer hard drive or to portable players like iPods. Lala is currently developing an iPhone app that would make Lala Web songs available via the iPhone's wireless internet connection. It is not clear how Lala would fit in with Apple but the paper suggests the acquisition could signal an expansion of the firm's music strategy.
The Financial Times says that Silicon Valley is on the verge of a new round of Wall Street fever, as private technology companies rush to cash in on the first signs of stock market interest in initial public offerings for more than two years, according to venture capitalists. Talk of public stock sales by tech companies are currently at a level not seen since the 1990s -- led by social networking company Facebook and a selection of other internet and "greentech" companies. In November, the number of companies that filed their intention to go public with the Securities and Exchange Commission jumped to 31, the largest number since before the financial crisis.
The same paper writes that Intel has announced it is abandoning its plans to launch a graphics card based on a new multi-core chip codenamed Larrabee. The chip maker said Larrabee would instead be used as a software development platform for internal and external use. On Friday, Intel spokesman Nick Knupfler said: "Larrabee silicon and software development are behind where we hoped to be at this point in the project. As a result, our first Larrabee product will not be launched as a standalone discrete graphics product."
The Sunday Times reports that gym owner Jackie Skelly is taking a High Court case for defamation against a "gripe site" that accuses the chain of "sharp business practice" and advises people not to join. Skelly and the holding company for the chain, Map Dance, have already sent a "cease and desist" letter to James McDonald, who runs the site. McDonald, who is based in new York, said he can stand over the claims made on the website. He set it up after joining one of the gyms while in Ireland for a month, at which stage he claims he was charged for two months after being told he would only be charged for one. However, the company says the chain has more than 20,000 members, and with only 30 or 40 complaints on the site, it represents a tiny proportion of its membership.
The Sunday Business Post writes that RTE is seeing "the beginning" of demand for a digital radio service. Some 6 percent of Irish households now own a digital set, and manufacturers are beginning to discuss the technology with RTE, the paper said. In Dublin, up to 10 percent of households own digital radios, although many newer sets include both digital and FM. RTE recently expanded its digital radio transmission coverage to nine counties, covering half the population of those regions. However, current digital radio stations are limited.
The same paper reports that software developed by Irish researchers to help analyse sentiment in online media has been licensed by a British-based market intelligence firm. Developed by UCD's Professor Padraig Cunningham and Dr Derek Greene, the software will be integrated with Polecat's MeaningMine system. This analyses statistical and linguistic trends in digital and broadcast media and will allow Polecat, which advises customers on what kind of comments and analysis of their products or services appears in the online media, to cluster information in a number of "coherent sub-groups" and identify the key terms associated with those groups. The software can handle large volumes of data. Although commercial terms for the deal were not disclosed, the paper says UCD could get a percentage of the revenue it generates.
The paper also writes that Cork-based photonics company Firecomms is predicting turnover of EUR5 million next year, despite a EUR6.2 million loss last year. The company is blaming the losses -- which now total EUR16.2 million -- on investment in research and development. The firm secured backing from investors to the tune of EUR3.3 million in a funding deal late last year, some of which was drawn down in 2008. The firm has received backing from Swiss telecoms firm Swisscom, Atlantic Bridge and ACT.