The technology business week: Pfizer seeking 150 redundancies in Newbridge plant, €150k Optimise Fund for 20 firms

9 Dec 2013

A digest of the top business technology news stories from the past week, beginning with redundancies at pharmaceutical company Pfizer’s plant in Newbridge, Co Kildare.

Pfizer seeking 150 redundancies in Newbridge plant

Staff at Pfizer’s Newbridge plant in Co Kildare were informed this past week that the company is seeking 150 redundancies and that packaging operations at the site will be shut down by 2015.

A consultation process has begun with the plant’s 700-strong workforce, which has already been reduced by more than a quarter following a previous redundancy programme.

Paul Duffy, vice-president of the company, cited patent expiration of key medicines and increased generic competition resulting in a reduction in manufacturing volumes and an excess of manufacturing capacity, specifically in Ireland, as the reason behind the decision, The Irish Times reports.

€150k Optimise Fund to bring 20 more firms into the digital economy in 2014

Twenty more firms will be supported by the IE Domain Registry’s (IEDR) €150,000 Optimise Fund. So far the annual fund has brought 45 businesses into the digital economy with e-commerce development support.

The Optimise Fund helps provide small business owners with tangible improvements to their online presence, such as the incorporation of real-time payments, online catalogues, order processing and booking facilities.

The fund will open in early 2014 to applications from all organisations classified as an SME or micro-enterprise and applicants must have an existing .ie website that is hosted online and accessible to the public.

PC shipments fell by 10.1pc during 2013 – IDC

Total PC shipments in 2013 fell by 10.1pc – more than the predicted 9.7pc – according to IDC. The analyst firm predicts shipments are expected to decline by 3.8pc next year and some 300m devices will ship during the year, barely ahead of 2008 volumes.

The business market is faring notably better than the consumer market in 2013, with shipments declining by -5pc year-over-year compared to nearly -15pc for consumer.

The relative stability is due to a mix of more stable PC investment planning, a smaller impact from tablets, and to replacements of Windows XP systems before the end of support planned for 2014.

Apple acquires social analytics firm Topsy for some US$200m

Apple has acquired Topsy Labs Inc for more than US$200m but as to what the consumer tech titan intends to do with the social media analytics company is unclear.

The Wall Street Journal, citing ‘people familiar with matter’, reported Apple’s purchase of Topsy, which specialises in analysing global Twitter data and providing insights into the current sentiment of various subjects.

Analysts, however, have suggested that Apple could use Topsy’s insights in several of its services, such as iTunes, the Siri voice assistant, or iAd advertising platform. For example, Topsy’s analysis could help Apple recommend content to iTunes users.

Amazon tests delivery of goods by drones

E-commerce giant Amazon is trialling a new type of delivery service, whereby airborne drones will pick up packages from depots and deliver them to a house or business within half an hour of the order being placed.

In a recent segment on US news programme 60 Minutes, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, spoke about how octocopters can bring packages weighing up to 5lb from an Amazon fulfilment centre to a home or business.

The new airborne service will be known as Amazon Prime Air and the company aims to have it fully operational in five years.

Snapchat poaches new COO from Facebook’s Instagram team

The Facebook director responsible for bringing advertising to Instagram has been snapped up by ephemeral photo and video-sharing app, Snapchat, as its new COO. But can Emily White crack the popular app’s monetisation conundrum?

In an interview with AllThingsD, White revealed that the opportunity knocked in recent weeks and was one she could not ignore. “It happened really quickly, but to have an actual COO role in one of many companies that is disrupting the communications arena is one I could not pass up,” she said.

White believes she has been recruited to help grow and scale the business – and what better woman than she who was tasked with implementing ‘enjoyable’ advertising on photo-sharing app Instagram, which itself was snapped up by Facebook for US$1bn last year.

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