The digital business week

3 Aug 2010

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

Motorola’s fortunes back on track with US$5.4bn quarter

Motorola is once again asserting itself in the mobile devices business and has reported a profitable second quarter with sales of US$5.4bn and profits of US$162m, up from profits of US$26m last year.

Motorola generated positive operating cash flow of US$242m, reduced long-term debt through a US$500m tender offer and ended the quarter with total cash of US$8.3bn.

“In the second quarter, our Enterprise Mobility Solutions and Networks businesses continued to deliver best-in-class market leadership and financial returns, with strong operating earnings and excellent cash generation,” said Greg Brown, Motorola co-chief executive officer and CEO of Motorola Solutions.

"In addition, last week we announced that Nokia Siemens Networks will acquire the majority of our Networks business. We are very proud of the operational and financial performance of our Networks business and are excited to have reached this agreement to combine our Networks team with such an industry leader," Brown continued.

During the second quarter, Motorola made strong use of the Google Android operating system to deliver popular mobile devices, including the DROID X, with a 4.3-inch high-resolution display and powerful 1 GHz processor.

Stieg Larsson first to sell 1 million Kindle e-books

The late crime writer Stieg Larsson, author of the internationally best-selling Millennium Trilogy, has become the first author to sell 1 million Kindle e-books, Amazon has announced.

As such, Larsson has become the first member of the ‘Kindle Million Club’, which recognises authors whose entire body of work has sold more than 1 million copies in the Amazon Kindle Store.

All three books in Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – are now in the top 10 best-selling Kindle books of all time. Each of the books are also New York Times and international best-sellers.

Larsson, who lived in Sweden, was the editor-in-chief of the magazine Expo and a leading expert on anti-democratic right-wing extremist organisations.

He died in 2004, shortly after delivering the manuscripts for the Millennium Trilogy to his publisher.

Online advertising in Ireland approaches €100m

Online advertising now accounts for 10pc of total ad spend in Ireland, overtaking magazine and cinema advertising. Ad industry professionals predict strong growth for online in 2010.

Online advertising expenditure for 2009 reached €97.2m, according to the first IAB Ireland and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) adspend study.

Bartley O’Connor, Advisory Consulting, PwC, said: “Online in Ireland has overtaken outdoor, magazine and cinema advertising, reflecting its move to centre stage. As it continues to grow and develop as a platform for entertainment, information and communication for Irish users, so, too, will the advertising revenues it will attract.”

This strong performance was recorded despite a particularly challenging economic outlook and its devastating effect on the general advertising industry. The total Irish advertising market is estimated to be worth €940m in 2009.

Sony back in black during first quarter

Japanese electronics giant Sony has returned to profit during its fiscal first quarter, thanks to strong sales of its televisions, computers and PlayStation consoles. The company also revised its operating income forecast upwards by 20pc for the full year.

Sony reported net income of 25.7 billion yen (US$294) for the quarter ended June 2010, compared to a net loss of 37.1 billion yen reported in the same quarter last year.

Sales rose by 3.8pc during the quarter to 1,661 billion yen (US$18.66bn) compared to Q2 2009.

Sony also said it was revising its operating income forecast for the fiscal year ended March 2011 upwards by 20pc to 60 billion yen, even though it noted that further appreciation of the yen against the euro is expected for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Steady demand for .ie namespace

A total of 9,448 .ie domains were registered between April and June this year, the best performing second quarter for .ie domain registrations in Ireland since records began, according to the IE Domain Registry.

Registration figures for the first half of 2010 show there were 19,099 .ie domains registered in the period January to June this year, bringing the total number of .ie domains at the end of June to almost 146,000.

March and April were the strongest performing months of the year to date, with registrations totalling 3,686 and 3,262 respectively, representing increases of 2.2pc and 6.6pc on the same months in the previous year. March accounts for the highest number of registrations recorded in a single month during the past 12 months.

The figures point to steady demand for the .ie namespace from Irish sole traders and limited companies, which account for 82pc of all registrations.

RSA buys 123.ie

RSA Insurance Group has announced today that it has acquired online insurance broker 123 Money, which trades as 123.ie, in a deal worth €65m.

123.ie, which provides motor, home and pet insurance, has about 170,000 policyholders and generated premium income of around €60m in the year ending 31 March 2010. It has gross assets of around €20m.

“The acquisition of 123.ie complements our existing intermediated distribution capability by giving us a leading direct presence and will make RSA the No 2 general insurer in Ireland,” said Simon Lee, CEO of RSA International. “We are excited about the growth prospects created by combining 123.ie’s strong brand with RSA’s financial strength and recognised technical expertise.”

Completion of the transaction is subject to regulatory approval.

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com