Weekly Digest Issue No. 498
E-readers to hit bestseller list in 2010? | PC market ends 2009 on a high
Good start for Irish firms in 2010
The new year has brought some positive news to a handful of Irish firms, with successful funding rounds and new jobs the order of the day. Web content management firm TerminalFour announced it has secured EUR1.6 million in funding and will use the money to expand its business and create 15 new jobs by 2011. The new positions include sales, pre-sales and customer service and will be based in Dublin. In more news of jobs, Intune Networks has said it plans to create 80 new jobs this year, following what it called "a very fast start" to 2010. Intune is preparing to launch an internet switch built using laser technologies, and expects to raise up to EUR10 million in funding this year. Meanwhile, Galway-based medical device developer Crospon completed a EUR2 million funding round. Crospon said its flagship gastroenterology product, EndoFLIP, has been cleared by the US Food and Drugs Administration, allowing it to sell the product in the US. In other news Irish e-payments firm Realex Payments signed a three-year deal with internet gaming and gambling software provider Cryptologic to support its card processing requirements. Financial details were not disclosed, but it's worth noting that Cryptologic manages payments for some of the world's biggest gaming companies, including Party Gaming, 888.com and Virgin Games.
Digiweb nets Internet Ireland
Dundalk-based broadband and hosting provider Digiweb announced on Wednesday that it was acquiring Internet Ireland, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Independent News and Media. Internet Ireland provides web hosting, telecoms and data centre services to clients such as Tiscali and the State Examinations Commission. According to Digiweb, staff from Internet Ireland will transfer to Digiweb's Dublin offices and data centre over the next few weeks. The deal will boost Digiweb's presence in the hosting market, which it has been increasingly focusing on for a couple of years. In April 2008 it purchased hosting provider Novara and claimed at the time that the acquisition made it the second-largest hosting provider in Ireland. Digiweb has been quite acquisitive of late, buying troubled telecoms firm Smart Telecom in November of last year. This latest move strengthens Digiweb's play for market share in the business and government markets. The value of the deal has not been disclosed.
E-readers to hit bestseller list in 2010?
Well, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is over for another year. The 2010 show was notable for the number of new product launches. Last year was relatively quiet on that front, with many firms announcing plans but no actual products. Aside from tablets, so-called smartbooks, and the buzz surrounding 3D TV, e-readers were the hot topic of the show, with Reuters reporting that the event was "awash" with e-readers. In fact, several companies unveiled their launch into the burgeoning market, including: Samsung Electronics with the Papyrus, Plastic Logic with the Que, Spring Design with the Alex, Hearst Corp with the Skiff, Entourage Systems with the eDGe, and DMC Worldwide with the Ocean and Tidal. They join established players like Amazon, Sony and Barnes & Noble in what has become the latest fight for consumers' eyeballs. Research firm iSuppli estimates that global sales of e-readers hit 5 million in 2009, and predicts this will jump to 12 million in 2010. With all these new entrants though, will the market become over-saturated or will it simply be a case of survival of the fittest, or, in this case, most popular? One thing's for sure, with an Apple tablet/e-reader on the cards for March of this year, it'll be an interesting market to watch.
Google in net face-off with China
Internet giant Google this week said it will end the censorship of its search service in China and risk being thrown out of the country's internet market. Google claims to have found evidence of China-based attempts to break into its Gmail system. It said these attacks, "combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web" has led it to review the "feasibility" of its business operations (Google.cn) in China. While Google hasn't seen runaway success in China like it's experienced globally, recent stats from web traffic analyst firm StatCounter suggest the search giant had been gaining ground in the potentially lucrative market. Over the last six months Google has made gains on the Chinese search leader Baidu, and at the end of 2009 had amassed a 43 percent market share (up from 30 percent in July 2009), compared to Baidu's 56 percent. "Our analysis suggests that given Google's recent strong performance, market share is certainly not the reason behind its threat to leave China at this time," said StatCounter CEO Aodhan Cullen. On Thursday, the Chinese government made its first official response to Google's announcement, saying that foreign internet companies are welcome but must obey the law. Without mentioning Google by name, foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said: "China's internet is open. China welcomes international internet enterprises to conduct business in China according to law." According to Press Association reports, Jiang was responding to questions about Google at a regular ministry briefing. Jiang reportedly gave no indication whether the government had talked with Google.
PC market ends 2009 on a high
Signs of recovery in the PC market got that bit stronger this week, with figures from research house IDC revealing that the global market recorded its first quarter of double-digit volume growth since the third quarter of 2008. IDC said the market in the fourth quarter grew by 15.2 percent year-on-year, led primarily by a strong performance in the US, which saw growth of 24 percent. (In a separate report Gartner puts the global growth rate at 22 percent.) The fourth quarter results cap a strong second half of 2009, according to IDC, which said that overall market growth for the year was 2.3 percent. Hewlett-Packard was the top vendor for the fourth quarter, shipping just under 18 million units, up 23.3 percent on the year-earlier quarter. Its market share was 21 percent at the end of 2009. In second place was Acer, which shipped 11.5 million units during the quarter, up an impressive 27.9 percent year-on-year. IDC cited Acer's strong position in the netbooks market as one of the key reasons for its growth. Acer had 13.4 percent market share at the end of 2009, just ahead of Dell with its 12.4 percent share. After four quarters of declining growth Dell got itself back on track with 5 percent year-on-year growth, and shipments of 11 million units. Lenovo, which saw year-on-year growth of 41.8 percent, and Toshiba, which also recorded impressive growth of 30 percent, rounded off the top five vendors.