Weekend news round-up

9 Aug 2010

All the stories that emerged over the weekend including the cost to HP of Mark Hurd’s departure, the cost of 3’s sponsorship of the Irish soccer team and the personal cost of the tangled web we weave online

HP saga – that’s gotta Hurd

The value of Mark Hurd, one of Silicon Valley’s best-regarded business leaders, was spelt out in no uncertain terms by Wall Street on Friday, the Financial Times reported on Saturday.

Within minutes of Hewlett-Packard disclosing the departure of its chief executive amid allegations of unethical behaviour, nearly $10bn was wiped from its stock market value.

There could have been no clearer signal of the confidence that Mr Hurd’s no-nonsense business style has instilled since he took the helm of a troubled HP more than five years ago. Over that period HP’s shares have doubled, while the broader US stock market has gone sideways.

HP moved quickly to try to contain the damage, reassuring Wall Street about its current performance by raising its earnings guidance and ruling out any broader impact on the company from the allegations against Mr Hurd.

Given his close identification with HP’s turnround, however, and with no obvious heir-apparent, the damage caused by the cloud of uncertainty now hanging over the company was rapid.

3 cheers for the Irish team

The Sunday Independent reported that mobile phone company 3 Ireland’s €7.5m sponsorship of the Irish soccer team could be worth €25m-€30m in media coverage for the phone firm in the coming European Championship campaign.

The four-year deal was announced on Thursday and coincides with 3’s major push into the pre-paid market. The reports take into account coverage of the national team in press, TV and online.

The Irish team’s failure to qualify for any championships since 2002 hasn’t dented the sport’s popularity — the 2.2 million peak audience for the Ireland vs France match in November 2009 was the largest RTE audience for any sporting event since 1995.

iPhone 4 hardware boss leaves Apple

The New York Times reported at the weekend that Mark Papermaster, the Apple executive in charge of hardware for the company’s flagship iPhone, has left the company in the wake of widely reported problems with the antenna of the recently introduced iPhone 4.

Apple confirmed Papermaster’s departure, but would not say whether he was ousted or left of his own accord. Reached on his cellphone, Mr. Papermaster declined to comment.

A person with direct knowledge of the situation, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorsed to discuss it, said Papermaster had been pushed out over a series of hardware problems, including some related to the iPod Touch.

Bob Mansfield, senior vice president for Macintosh hardware engineering, will assume Mr. Papermaster’s responsibilities. Mr. Mansfield already oversees several technologies that are part of the iPhone, including the A4 chip, the retina display and touch screens, said Steve Dowling, an Apple spokesman.

Apple recruited Mr. Papermaster in 2008, setting off a prominent battle with I.B.M, where in a 25-year-career he had risen to the top levels of management. IBM sued Papermaster in federal court in an attempt to prevent him from joining Apple, saying that he had signed a noncompete agreement. The parties settled the case after Mr. Papermaster testified in court that he had not revealed any trade secrets.

Saudis test BlackBerry server solution

The Financial Times reported Saudi authorities have agreed to delay until today a ban blocking the instant messaging services offered by BlackBerry.

The delay on the ban has been allowed pending the testing of a server based in the kingdom bypassing the two servers currently operated by RIM, Blackberry’s owner, in Britain and Canada.

“Three servers are being tested, one for each of the three mobile operators. We’re waiting for feedback [from the telecoms firms],” an official from the Communications and Information Technology Commission’s technical department told Reuters.

A banker based in Saudi Arabia said on Sunday that his BlackBerry was still working but that it had shut down briefly on Friday morning. It was not clear whether the Friday shutdown was a glitch or whether it was caused by testing of a new server, he said.

Saudi Arabia last week joined the United Arab Emirates in threatening to block BlackBerry services after a six-month grace period had reportedly been granted in May. The UAE has said it will block all e-mail, web browsing and messaging services.

What a tangled web we weave

The Sunday Independent carried an interesting article on the rise of online infidelity and philandering with 325,000 bored husbands and wives worldwide who’ve signed up to Gleeden.com, a fledgling dating site for those seeking extramarital fun.

Giving new meaning to the tangled web we weave, the French site aims to weed out the love rats that frequently infest the singles scene and lump them together in cyberspace to unleash their libidos.

With better spin, of course; “Gleeden unites love and lust, marriage and freedom,” or so goes the tagline which has so far seduced 1,000 Irish would-be philanderers since its launch here last month.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years