40 Irish mobile tech firms active in the UK


26 Jan 2004

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Some 40 Irish mobile and wireless technology firms are actively winning business in the UK, according to Enterprise Ireland. According to the agency, mobile and wireless software applications account for approximately 10pc of the UK IT industry, and this is steadily growing as technology evolves.

Mary Barton, manager of international services at Enterprise Ireland’s London office commented: “In particular, we are finding that Irish software firms targeting the wireless and mobile enterprise and operator applications business are carving significant business opportunities for themselves. Some 40 Irish mobile and wireless software developers are extremely active in the UK market right now.”

The UK, with 20 times the population of Ireland, is a highly evolved mobile and wireless society. The UK is second to the States in terms of wireless local area networking, and in terms of mobile device services and market opportunities is one of the biggest in the world outside of Asia. The country has already seen almost a year of the advent of 3G services through the arrival of Hutchison’s 3. In the UK ringtone downloads have begun to outsell the sales of CD singles, with some €365m being spent a year.

High street retail operators like Boots have started to offer services such as full colour photo printing for 20p for people with multimedia messaging on their camera phones. This is only the beginning of such services as UK TV companies (think Big Brother), newspapers, magazines, internet content players and radio stations get in on the action.

According to Charlotte Lane, a senior market development adviser at Enterprise Ireland in London who focuses on the mobile market, Irish mobile software companies like ItsMobile, Vordel, Openet, Xiam and Am-beo are sparking considerable interest from operators like Orange, Vodafone and O2 as well as UK businesses and local governments who see the value in deploying m-business and m-government services to boost efficiencies. “For example, Its Mobile is receiving a lot of interest. The company last year rolled out mobile payment for parking meters in Edinburgh. There is a drive at local government level in the UK to provide better access and ways of charging for services and mobile is gaining momentum in that regard,” she said.

Lane added that the small size of the Irish market and the easy access that local companies have to international software houses like Microsoft as well as international mobile operators like Vodafone and O2 gives local mobile software players an advantage over UK-based competitors. “Winning deals with these operators immediately opens doors on a global stage. Because of its market size, UK development companies don’t have that. Potential buyers of software and applications can get an opportunity to see that application up and running in the Irish home market and can make their decisions.”

By John Kennedy