2002: Review of the year – Part III (July-Sept)


19 Dec 2002

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Looking back over 2002, LISA DEENEY selects the main movers and shakers in public and private sectors, the dotcoms and the dotbombs, and the big deals that made the headlines in a difficult year – July-September.

JULY

This month marked the inauguration of Mary Hanafin TD as Minister for the Information Society with a brief that was more about bridging the digital divide than establishing Ireland as an e-business hub. Ho-hum.
O2 launches the xda, an all-in-one phone-cum-PDA (personal digital assistant).
Eircom launched its fixed-line text messaging service with the SMS-enabled landline service and much-hyped cordless handsets, aided and abetted by a Freddie Mercury-inspired TV campaign. Strange but true…
Irish company Datalex signed a contract with Iterra, a supplier of software products for the travel industry in France. Data Electronics won a 15-year Global Crossing hosting contract and ChangingWorlds, an Irish-based developer of personalisation technology, signed a deal with Vodafone.
Bad news came from 3Com and the relocation of its R&D operation from Blanchardstown to Toronto and India.

AUGUST

Summer finally arrived and with it came the cheeriest forecast of the year from British Telecom futurologist Ian Pearson, who predicted an unprecedented boom in technology in 2006.
Ireland Live Television became the first news broadcaster in the world to offer live news content to mobiles when it struck a deal with O2 this month. The contract will potentially allow Ireland Live feed to any mobile phone globally over O2’s GPRS network.
Summertime acquisitions included iTouch buying Telescope, a UK company that provides voice and SMS voting to reality TV shows such as Pop Idol.
The Irish division of Hewlett-Packard secured a multi-year, multi-million dollar global contract to provide centralised end-user technical support for Microsoft.
The bad news. Two of Ireland’s leading technology firms were de-listed from two different benchmarking indices. Iona Technologies was de-listed from the Morgan Stanley Capital International Ireland index. Education software maker Riverdeep was named as one of 19 companies, which will have to exit the Stoxx 600 index of European shares.

SEPTEMBER

On the employment front, Microsoft announced the loss of 15 jobs in its Irish .Net operation because of its relocation to the Seattle HQ. Nevadatele.com, the Belfast-based telco, laid off 60 staff.
On the upside, StorageTek brought its R&D development to Dublin. “We believe the storage market is set to grow three times faster in Ireland over the coming three years than in the rest of Europe,” said its Irish MD Sean Jackman. Also, SAP, the German software giant, announced it was set to expand its Irish support operation for the launch of a SAP Business One aimed at SMEs.
Irish tech firm SmartForce signed a new multi-year agreement to provide a learning solution to NEC America and, according to news reports in September, Worldport, the web-hosting firm that went into liquidation last year, was planning a resurrection.
September also saw Ericsson lose out on a multi-million contract for the rollout of Vodafone Ireland’s 3G network. Nokia beat off stiff competition from a number of competitors to scoop the deal.
According to the ODTR, Meteor saw its market share grow by 1pc to 4pc. O2 was up 1pc to 39pc, while Vodafone’s share remained flat at 57pc.