A digest of the top business technology news stories from the past week.
Simply Zesty and Tibus merge to create UK and Ireland digital media powerhouse
UTV Media plc revealed it is merging its web design agency Tibus with digital and social branding agency Simply Zesty, which it acquired last year for about stg£1.7m, potentially rising to stg£5m, depending upon future trading performance.
UTV Media acquired Tibus, which designed and hosts Siliconrepublic.com, in February 2008 for stg£5m in a move that added 15pc to its revenues within that year.
UTV said it was merging Simply Zesty and Tibus to form one of Ireland’s largest digital agencies trading as Simply Zesty, with operations in Dublin, Belfast and London.
“With the combined strengths of both of our digital agency businesses, we can now offer leading brands an unrivalled creative digital marketing and technology service across Europe and beyond,” said Nigel Robbins, group commercial director, UTV Media plc.
The digital infrastructure division of Tibus will continue to trade under the Tibus brand.
Play.com to shutter direct retail business, marketplace will remain
The UK government closed a VAT loophole that was costing the country’s exchequer millions last year, and this has led online retailer Play.com to decide to shut down its direct retail operations, and continue on as an online marketplace only.
Low Value Consignment Relief allowed Play.com to sell VAT-free CDs and DVDs from its base on the Channel Islands, as goods bought for less than stg£15 and imported to the UK from outside the EU were exempt from VAT. However, this tax relief was stopped by the UK government in April 2012 under pressure from retailers struggling to compete with the VAT-free prices that could be offered by online retailers.
The Guardian reported that 147 staff in Play.com’s Jersey offices will be made redundant, as well as 67 in Cambridge and Bristol.
HTC profits plunge to lowest level since 2004
Smartphone maker HTC’s net profit for the fourth quarter of 2012 plunged 91pc from a year ago, as its smartphone models continue to be outsold by Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy ranges.
HTC announced its fourth-quarter net income for the three months up to December 2012 was NT$1bn (€26m). According to a report on Bloomberg, this is the lowest income for the company since 2004.
HTC’s net profit is down more than 90pc on the NT$10.94bn recorded for the same period in 2011. Revenue for the fourth quarter amounted to NT$60bn.
According to analysts, HTC has suffered as a result of the lack of big product launches during the period.
Apple CEO Tim Cook in China again, Google’s Schmidt in North Korea
Apple CEO Tim Cook embarked on his second trip to China in less than a year and has met with one of the country’s government officials, while Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt was in Pyongyang, North Korea, in a “personal” capacity.
Cook last week met with Miao Wei, the head of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, to talk about China’s tech industry, global mobile communications, and Apple’s business in the country, CNET reported the minister’s website as having stated.
Schmidt arrived in North Korea with former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson.
Their nine-person delegation had a private, four-day visit. There had been no additional information about whom they were to see and what they were to do in North Korea, a country in which most residents have no internet access.
All Google would say was that Schmidt was acting in a “personal” capacity, The Guardian reported.
Microsoft names new corporate VP for its Interactive Entertainment Business
Tech giant Microsoft has appointed Blake Krikorian as corporate vice-president for its Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB), following the acquisition of his company id8 Group R2 Studios (R2 Studios).
In his new role, Krikorian will report to Marc Whitten, chief product officer for IEB.
“We are thrilled to have Blake join the Xbox team,” Whitten said. “He’s a proven innovator and well-respected leader in both the media and technology industries, having created simple, elegant products that have transformed the way people engage with and consume content.
“We look forward to his contribution to our team as Xbox continues to evolve and transform the games and entertainment landscape,” Whitten added.
Apple nabs Xerox’s executive VP and CFO
Xerox’s executive vice-president and chief financial officer (CFO) Luca Maestri is leaving the company at the end of February to take on the role of corporate controller at consumer tech giant Apple.
Xerox chairman and chief executive officer Ursula Burns said Xerox has begun an external search for a new CFO.
Maestri served as CFO of Nokia Siemens Networks before joining Xerox in February 2011.
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