The tech business week: Ireland in global top 20 tech exits, very profitable Apple

16 Feb 2015

A digest of the top business technology news stories from the past week, beginning with Ireland ranking among the global top 20 tech exits as activity reaches a new high.

Ireland in global top 20 tech exits as activity reaches a new high

While global tech exit activity surged 58pc in 2014, Ireland has made the top 20 list, according to new data from CB Insights.

According to the research, 2014 saw 2,886 tech exits, including 2,807 mergers and acquisitions and 79 IPOs.

The 58pc surge in exit activity grew steadily quarter by quarter in 2014. The second quarter in particular, was a breakout quarter, with 731 mergers and acquisitions (M&As) and 31 IPOs, including notable public offerings for Jingdong and Just-Eat.

Irish M&A activity during 2014 included Version 1’s march into the UK software market through acquisitions of Patech and Tieto Corporation, Red Hat’s acquisition of Feed Henry for €63.5m in cash and Three’s acquisition of O2 Ireland for €850m.

Apple owns pretty much all the smartphone profit in the world

There’s no money in smartphone selling, unless you are consumer tech titan Apple, which bagged 93pc of all profits in the fourth quarter of 2014.

The figures have been released by financial services company Canaccord Genuity.

Mike Walkley, an analyst with the Canadian business, predicts even further improvements from Apple, with up to 33pc of all smartphone users in 2018 owning one of its devices.

Chart via Mac Rumours

720,000 Android Wear devices shipped in 2014 – Moto 360 is the clear leader

More than 720,000 Android Wear devices shipped in 2014 out of a total global market of 4.6m wearable smart bands or watches, according to Canalys.

While supply of the Moto 360 was constrained in the fourth quarter, Motorola was the clear leader among the Android Wear vendors. LG’s round G Watch R performed significantly better than its original G Watch, while Asus and Sony entered the market with their own Android Wear devices.

Pebble, meanwhile, shipped 1m units from its 2013 launch through to the end of 2014. Continual software updates, more apps in its app store and price cuts in the fall helped maintain strong sales in the second half of the year.

“Samsung has launched six devices in just 14 months, on different platforms and still leads the smart band market,” said Canalys VP and principal analyst Chris Jones. “But it has struggled to keep consumers engaged and must work hard to attract developers while it focuses on Tizen for its wearables.”

Alibaba moves into smartphones with US$590m investment in Meizu

E-commerce giant Alibaba is now looking to move into smartphones by spending US$590m to garner minority control of Meizu, one of China’s up-and-coming smartphone manufacturers.

Compared with some other Chinese manufacturers in the market, Meizu is considered one of the smaller manufacturers given that it holds little more than 2pc of China’s ferociously competitive marketplace.

According to figures from the IDC, China currently has 1bn mobile phone users, out of a population of 1.3bn, 40pc of whom use smartphones. For this reason, with the help of one of the largest and fastest-growing e-commerce companies in the world, Meizu is aiming to use Alibaba as a platform for future expansion while taking away from the likes of the much larger national manufacturers Xiaomi, Huawei and Lenovo, not to mention the other Asian giants of HTC and Samsung.

In return, Alibaba is not looking to piggyback off Meizu’s mobile phone technology to follow a similar path to its American competitor, Amazon, but rather sees Meizu’s phones as a platform for the rollout of its own operating system and software.

HP acquires Voltage Security to encrypt cloud, big data and IoT

HP has acquired data encryption player Voltage Security for an undisclosed sum to bolster its efforts to secure cloud computing, big data and the internet of things and move away from physical security solutions.

Voltage Security will become part of HP’s Atalla Solutions division, which protects data across smart devices and data centres and which protects 70pc of US payment card transactions.

Voltage’s encryption and token technology will be used to protect sensitive information whether it lives in the cloud, across mobile platforms and in big data environments.

AOL Q4 revenues up 5pc as programmatic ads vision comes to life

Online media giant AOL has reported total fourth-quarter revenues of US$710.3m, up 5pc on last year. The company’s focus on programmatic ads is working and AOL saw a 66pc jump in profit to US$59.6m.

Overall for the year, AOL Platforms surpassed US$1bn in revenue, swinging into profit.

Total revenues for 2014 surged past the US$2.5bn mark, up 9pc on last year.

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Mergers and acquisitions image via Shutterstock