The Digital Business Week

1 Feb 2010

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A digest of the top business and technology news stories

Tech firms top business ethics ranking

IBM comes top in a ranking of ‘ethical’ multinational companies, as compiled by Swiss ethical analyst firm Covalence, with Intel coming in at No 2. While the list of multinationals was drawn from 581 multinationals within 18 sectors on the basis of their environmental, social and labour actions, technology firms featured heavily in the Top 20. Xerox, Cisco and Dell came in at Nos 6, 8 and 9 respectively, while Microsoft made the Top 20 and Google came in at No 24. In the bottom 10, amongst mostly oil and gas companies, was the online booking-only budget flight firm Ryanair.

Government to tender for postcode system

Communications Minister Eamon Ryan announced that the Department of Communications has issued an invitation to tender for consultants to advise on the implementation of the national postcodes system. The selected consultants will begin their work in late March. Ryan said that this preparatory work should mean a national postcode system will be assigned and in use throughout the country by the end of next year. He said a national postcode system will deliver benefits not only in terms of postal delivery but across the economy and in Government planning.

New chairman to lead ComReg

Communications Minister Eamon Ryan has appointed commissioner Alex Chisholm as the new chairman of the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg).

Chisholm will succeed John Doherty, who has held the position of chairperson for the last two years. Doherty, while continuing in his role as ComReg commissioner, has recently taken up the position as chairperson of the Body European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC). In related news, Mike Byrne was appointed as vice chairperson of the Radio Spectrum Policy Group (RSPG) with a view to becoming chairperson in November 2010.

Ergo expands with 15 new technology jobs

Irish IT company Ergo is bucking the economic trend and is in the process of hiring 15 people to join its software solutions division following a surge in demand for solutions from its Microsoft practice. Despite the recession, the last six months have seen Ergo win a series of large contracts using Microsoft technology, and the company is forecasting significant growth in this area over the next two years. The company is holding a recruitment day Thursday, 4 February, at the St Stephens Green Hotel at 12pm to meet with qualified Microsoft professionals with relevant experience.

TV and handset sales boost Samsung profits

Samsung Electronics has reported profits in its fourth quarter, largely thanks to strong sales of flat-screen televisions and mobile phones. This is compared to the loss posted during the same period last year. The South Korean electronics giant reported net profits of 3.1 trillion won (US$2.7 billion) in the final three months of 2009. This is compared to the 20 billion won loss (US$14 million loss) made during the same period in 2008, which had been the company’s first loss since it began reporting on a quarterly basis in 2000.

Kindle e-reader bumper sales for Amazon

Amazon.com now sells six Kindle e-books for every 10 physical books and it is estimated that the company has sold more than 2.5 million units of the devices. Amazon.com reported a 42pc increase in sales to US$9.5 billion compared with US$6.7 billion last year. The company reported a 71pc increase in profits to US$384 million, up from US$225 million a year ago. “Millions of people now own Kindles,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com. “And Kindle owners read, a lot. When we have both editions, we sell six Kindle books for every 10 physical books."

Seagate creates 95 R&D jobs in North

Hard-disk maker Seagate Technology has announced 95 new jobs in Derry and Belfast as part of a major stg£60-million investment. Invest Northern Ireland has offered stg£12.7 million support towards the total cost of the investments, which are expected to increase R&D-related jobs there by 85 and to create a further 10 related research posts at Queen’s University, Belfast.

Windows 7 sells 60m units

Sales of its latest operating system Windows 7 have helped drive record revenues of US$19 billion for Microsoft, up 14pc on last year. The company sold more than 60 million licences since it launched the OS. “Exceptional demand for Windows 7 led to the positive top-line growth for the company,” said Peter Klein, chief financial officer at Microsoft. “Our continuing commitment to managing costs allowed us to drive earnings performance ahead of the revenue growth.”

Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 launched globally on October 22 as anticipated. Through the second quarter, Microsoft has sold more than 60 million Windows 7 licenses, making it the fastest-selling operating system in history.

Receiver appointed at Cognotec

The financial software company launched by Brian MacCaba, Cognotec, has appointed a receiver and it is understood that 40 jobs in Ireland may go if the company fails to find a buyer. The maker of foreign exchange system software has substantial contracts in place but is experiencing cash flow difficulties. Barclays Bank is understood to have appointed Kieran Wallace of KPMG as receiver to Cognotec Holdings, who is hoping to sell the business as a going concern. The company is targeting the Top 100 banks in the world and the average contract with a top bank could be worth more than US$20 million. However, recently the company’s biggest customer cancelled a project.

By John Kennedy

Photo: Minister of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com