The tech business week: digital strategies for Irish firms, acquisitions aplenty

15 Dec 2014

A digest of the top business technology news stories from the past week, beginning with the news BearingPoint and the Innovation Value Institute are going to help Irish firms develop long-term digital strategies.

As the digital economy surges, local firms must not be consigned to history

Irish people spent €6bn online this year, but only €1.1bn of that is likely to have found its way into the coffers of local businesses. To correct this, BearingPoint and the Innovation Value Institute (IVI) are going to help firms develop long-term strategies.

A new BearingPoint digital economy report claims that the convergence and mass adoption of new technologies is creating a new digital environment, where businesses are investing in new skills and looking to their digital-focused partners to provide technological insight and value to their operations.

While the report outlines the consistently strong value of physical stores (consumers can see, touch and test products), through innovative use of emerging digital technologies, businesses can offer bespoke, personalised services, resulting in new customer experiences.

“We believe our mix of academic research with BearingPoint’s hands-on digital knowledge gained from working with digital leaders across Europe will help define the digital adoption roadmap which will significantly help Irish organisations accelerate their digital readiness,” Martin Delaney, general manager at the IVI said.

The Netherlands and Portland next to move against Uber

In the latest chapter of ‘(insert city/country name) versus Uber’, the Netherlands and US city of Portland, Oregon, are now playing their hand against the ride-sharing service.

News from the Hague, Netherlands, reported Uber’s app, UberPop, has been accused of breaking a law requiring drivers to have a special licence. It has subsequently been banned, with potential fines to follow.

Over in Portland, Oregon, the city has issued a cease-and-desist order to Uber and any other Uber entity operating there until the appropriate permits are acquired. The city has filed a lawsuit against the company, as well.

Uber is contesting the decision.

Microsoft buys mobile crash analytics application HockeyApp

Software giant Microsoft has acquired HockeyApp, a mobile crash analytics and app distribution service, for an undisclosed sum.

Both parties have confirmed the deal via their websites, with Microsoft’s product unit manager Brian Harry pointing to the additional support users of Microsoft’s Application Insights tool can look forward to as a result of the takeover.

HockeyApp founders Michael Simmons, Andreas Linde, Stefan Haubold and Thomas Dohmke called the acquisition “a tremendous opportunity to continue to provide developers with the best app-development tools and users with the best app experiences”.

Oculus snaps up Nimble, 13th Lab and Chris Bregler

Oculus VR, the company behind some of the coolest virtual-reality kit around, has just bought Nimble VR and 13th Lab, and hired motion-capture expert Chris Bregler.

The acquisition of Nimble VR, in particular, could see Oculus’ Rift virtual reality headset improve significantly, while the acquisition of 13th Lab adds another layer to Oculus’ growing virtual-reality capabilities.

Bregler brings experience, having worked on the visual tracing of movies The Lone Ranger and Star Trek Into Darkness.

Xbox gamers can now pay for games in bitcoin

Microsoft surprised many by making it known that for a range of digital products, consumers can now pay for them using the cryptocurrency bitcoin.

While seemingly a pretty bold step for a multi-billion-dollar tech company to take with a currency that fluctuates wildly as the day is long, the safety net for Microsoft is that you cannot pay directly for items, but can rather add funds to an online account using bitcoin.

Under the new option explained by Microsoft on its website, an Xbox gamer could now pay for his or her games using his or her bitcoin wallet.

However, in its post, Microsoft has seemingly left the door open for possible expansion and direct acceptance of the currency.

Former Apple exec fined and sentenced to a year in prison for selling trade secrets

A former Apple global supply manager who sold some of the consumer tech giant’s secrets to suppliers has been sentenced to a year in prison and fined US$4.5m.

As reported by the Associated Press, Paul S Devine plead guilty to wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering over three years ago and has now been handed his penalty by a San Jose, California, federal court.

Devine worked at Apple from 2005 until his 2010 arrest. During his tenure with the company he received millions of dollars for leaking confidential information to Apple’s suppliers and manufacturers who used the secrets to negotiate more favourable deals.

Digital economy image via Shutterstock

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