The technology business week: Ireland up in global competitiveness rank, Apple CEO denies deal with Irish Government

4 Jun 2013

The Samuel Beckett Bridge in Dublin

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

Ireland rises up the ranks in global competitiveness

Ireland has risen three places to become 17th in the world for overall competitiveness, according to the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook.

The IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook has ranked Ireland in third place for availability of skilled labour and first for flexibility and adaptability of its workforce, first for its attitudes to globalisation and first in terms of investment incentives.

Ireland also made significant improvements in areas including government finances, growth and inflation.

More than half the executives surveyed for the report identified a competitive tax regime, skilled workforce, business friendly environment, and high educational levels as key attractiveness factors in Ireland. 

Apple CEO Tim Cook: ‘We have no special deal with the Irish Government’

The CEO of Apple Tim Cook told the All Things Digital D10 conference last week that the company has no special tax deal in place with the Irish Government.

The issue rose up recently after a US Congress sub-committee zeroed in on Apple as part of an overall focus on where US multinationals pay taxes on their profits.

Irish Government ministers have repeatedly denied that Apple received a special tax deal since setting up in Cork in 1980.

Cook laid the whole issue of the repatriation of profits and where taxes go at the feet of successive US governments. “It’s a Band-Aid-and-paper-clip kind of thing. Over the years, Congress has kept Band-Aiding it.”

Cook said Apple pays US$6bn in US taxes, “more than anyone else.”

The Apple CEO also suggested a plan whereby Apple would pay even more but in exchange would repatriate all the cash it has offshore.

“We have no special deal with the Irish Government,” Cook said.

E-government improving, but citizens want more, more, more

Almost half (46pc) of European Union (EU) citizens go online to use e-government services but many of them said they are more satisfied with online banking and online shopping than they are with online public services, The eGovernment Benchmark 2012 report revealed.

These users are more satisfied with online banking (8.5 satisfaction rating on a scale of 0 to 10), and online shopping (7.6) than with public services online (6.5).

Neelie Kroes, European Commission vice-president responsible for the Digital Agenda, said these are promising trends for e-government in Europe but “when users are more satisfied with online banking than online public services, it shows that public administrations must do better at designing e-government services around users’ needs. And we have to do more to make e-government work across borders.”

PC industry outlook worse than expected, IDC says

The outlook for the PC sector in 2013 is worse than originally predicted, the IDC said. Consumer demand for lighter, versatile and more energy-efficient gadgets over PCs will see PC sales plummet by 7.8pc in 2013.

The analyst firm cited a shift in PC buying trends, as consumers delay PC purchases or opt entirely instead for alternative devices, like standalone tablets or smartphones which suit their computing needs.

Instead of a limited decline of -1.3pc in 2013 followed by a gradual increase in volume, the new outlook calls for a more substantial decline of -7.8pc in 2013 and -1.2pc in 2014.

PC shipment volume is expected to reach only 333m in 2017 – still below the 349m units shipped in 2012 and a peak of more than 363m units shipped in 2011.

Cisco to acquire energy management player JouleX for US$107m

Networking equipment maker Cisco has revealed its plans to acquire JouleX, an energy management solutions provider, for US$107m in cash and retention-based incentives.

Under the deal, JouleX’s energy management solution, together with Cisco EnergyWise, will provide customers with a way to measure, monitor and manage energy usage for network and IT systems across the enterprise, without the use of device-side agents, hardware metres or network configurations, Cisco said.

Eircom third-quarter revenues fall by €37m

Incumbent telecoms operator Eircom reported a €37m decline in third-quarter revenues of €338m, a 10pc drop.

Operating costs were €153m for the quarter, down €7m from the prior year, a 4pc improvement.

EBITDA decreased by €15m on the prior year to €122m for the quarter, down 11pc on the same period in 2011.

The retail customer base, comprising fixed and mobile customers, stood at just more than 2m at the end of March and includes 1m mobile customers.

The total customer base, including wholesale customers, totalled 2.4m at the end of March.

In terms of broadband, Eircom reported a 1pc decrease in broadband subscribers to 455,000 retail customers. “Work continues at pace as we execute on our investment strategy to build a network for a nation that supports superfast fibre and mobile broadband for consumers and businesses,” Eircom CEO Herb Hribar said.

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