The digital business week

5 Jul 2010

A digest of the top business and technology news stories from the past week.

Intune attracts further investment

Clean tech and renewable energy fund ESB Novusmodus has taken a €3m stake in promising Irish fibre communications company Intune Networks, illustrating the link between state-of-the-art broadband and reducing energy consumption.

The investment adds to Intune’s recent €22m funding round, which will be used to complete the development and commercialisation of its high performance optical data switch technology.

Novusmodus’ John McKiernan – appointed as a director of Intune Networks – said that Intune Networks’ revolutionary technology has the potential to transform the way carriers operate their metro networks, solving bandwidth problems at the same time as halving their energy consumption.

“We are delighted to be backing such an excellent management team and a company founded by Irish engineers with enormous global prospects.”

Intune’s patented fast tuneable laser technology solves the costly performance bottleneck problems facing all major mobile telecoms carriers as existing network architectures struggle to deal with huge increases in data traffic.

Google to become a travel hub

Very soon you’ll be Googling up your boarding pass and automatically switching flights via your smartphone. Perhaps that’s the vision driving Google’s US$700m acquisition of ITA Software.

The ITA acquisition by Google has been the subject of intense competition from other internet players, like Expedia and Kayak, who fear the effect the world’s biggest search engine could have on the world of travel.

Commenting following the acquisition, Marissa Mayer, vice-president of Google’s Search Products and User Experience, said Google wants to do pretty much that.

“Today, almost half of all airline tickets are sold online. But for many people, finding the right flight at the best price is a frustrating experience; pricing and availability change constantly, and even a simple two-city itinerary involves literally thousands of different options.

“We’d like to make that search much easier, which is why I’m pleased to announce that today we have signed an agreement to acquire ITA, a Boston-based software company specialising in organising airline data, including flight times, availability and prices.

“While online flight search is rapidly evolving, we think there is room for more competition and greater innovation. Google has already come up with new ways to organise hard-to-find information, like images, newspaper archives, scholarly papers, books and geographic data.

“Once we’ve completed our acquisition of ITA, we’ll work on creating new flight search tools that will make it easier for you to search for flights, compare flight options and prices and get you quickly to a site where you can buy your ticket.

Data centre giant plans Dublin expansion

California-headquartered Digital Realty Trust – which has more than US$500m worth of data centre infrastructure under management in Europe – says it is expanding its workforce in Dublin on the back of significant internet and financial opportunities.

Backed by a Californian pension fund, Digital Realty Trust has been buying more than 13m sq feet of data centres around the world, including two in Dublin.

Since establishing its HQ office in 2006, Digital Realty Trust has invested almost €120m in Ireland and employs 30 full-time staff across European marketing, IT, corporate accounting, portfolio management and technical operations.

Bernard Geoghegan, senior VP of international operations at Digital Realty Trust, told Siliconrepublic that it plans to expand its 30-strong workforce in Dublin by 15pc, with five new technical, legal and financial jobs.

Digital Realty Trust owns three data centres in the greater Dublin area. The company provides flexible, reliable and cost-effective data centre solutions, from data centre design and construction, to comprehensive data centre management solutions.

HP targets US$100m mobile device business

HP has completed its US$1.2bn acquisition of Palm and has revealed it plans to feature Palm’s webOS in a new line of tablet PCs, netbooks and smartphones.

HP completed the acquisition of Palm at a price of US$5.70 per share of Palm’s stock.

Todd Bradley, executive vice-president of HP’s Personal Systems Group, explained the acquisition will give HP access to Palm’s webOS platform and, in particular, a “rich portfolio of intellectual property” from the smartphone maker.

He said HP’s global scale, financial strength and Palm’s webOS platform, with products like the Pre and Pixi smartphones, would allow HP to compete more aggressively in the highly profitable US$100bn smartphone and connected device markets.

Former Palm CEO Jon Rubenstein made it clear the webOS platform will feature in future slate PCs and netbooks.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years