Smiley’s People, and the future of the internet

This article,  in the light of the NSA revelations by Edward Snowden,  appeared in the Irish Times on 18th December 2013.

The news this week that the US intelligence agencies and the UK’s Government Communications HQ (GCHQ) have being stalking around as avatars inside the online virtual worlds of Second Life, World of Warcraft and the Xbox Live gaming network brings me a wry smile as I write this. Just imagine the scene: a team of young 25 year old Edward Snowden-like geeks petitioning their senior 60 year old George Smiley-like boss to be allowed to spend their entire work time wandering around these virtual playparks – “you do understand Mr Smiley sir, it is purely just in case..” Apparently so many spooks are now doing so, that the spy agencies have actually had to put in place a “deconfliction” process so that secret avatars from different agencies do not accidentally virtually spy on each other!

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The Twitter IPO, bubble fears, and global economic fragility

This article appeared in the Irish Times on November 18th 2013.

The European Central Bank has just cut interest rates to a record low, of just 0.25%. Interest rates are similarly depressed, and for some time, in the United States. If – despite the recession blues, the property bubble, and the increases in both direct and indirect taxes – you still have some cash left to save and invest, where might you put it? Well, here’s what some people have just done: they have invested in a new publicly quoted company which is at least three times more valuable than Ryanair; twice as big as Hyundai; and more valuable than Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. The thing is, this company has not yet made a single cent, and probably will not do so in any material way until 2015. At the time of the company’s initial public offering (IPO), for every share that was successfully bought, there were 30 other buyers also trying to buy it. The company is Twitter.

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A “Bricks and Mortar” Government

I wrote this piece as a commentary on the Irish Government’s 2014 budget,   announced on 15th October last.  My piece appeared in the Irish Times today.

Roll-over relief for capital gains tax for entrepreneurs was announced in the Budget.  But still…

This summer’s film comedy “The Internship” features two wristwatch sales men Billy (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Owen Campbell) who find themselves out of a job when their employer goes out of business. “Everything is computerized now” rings in their ears as they pack up, leave, and seek new jobs. The pair ultimately end up in an internship programme at Google headquarters in Silicon Valley, where they are plunged into a younger generation fully conversant with the internet, and somehow try to convince Google to give them a job.

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“Ireland is a Terrible Place to be an Entrepreneur”

I wrote this piece a few weeks before Irish Government announced the national budget for 2014.   It was published in the Irish Times on 7th October last.   In my view,  the current administration often pronounce on entrepreneurship,   but fail to consider the wider picture and to follow through.

Capital Gains Tax has been increased by over two thirds by the current administration,  and it is now (for example) over three times as much as is applicable in the UK (including Northern Ireland)….

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Posted in economy, Enterpreneurship, innovation, Ireland, Irish Times, politics | 1 Comment

Building a global brand

This article on the challenges of building and sustaining a global consumer brand in the tech industry,  was published in the Irish Times on 9th September last.

Finnish national pride was dented last week with the acquisition of Nokia’s phone business by Microsoft. Nokia was a key player in the development of GSM cellular phone technology. The world’s first commercial GSM call was placed over a Nokia network in July 1991.

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Posted in business models, economy, Enterpreneurship, Intellectual Property, Irish Times | 1 Comment

Role of State Funding of R&D, and the Costs of Funding Research

Some thoughts on Martin Wolf and Prof. Mariana Mazzucato assertions on state funding of R&D,  and on the Times Higher Education Innovation Index – my article was published in the Irish Times on 19th August last….

On August 7th last, this paper reprinted with permission from The Financial Times Limited, an article by Martin Wolf entitled “Much-aligned state takes the boldest risks in innovation”. His piece reviewed the book ‘The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs Private Sector Myths’, by Mariana Mazzucato, a Sussex university professor of economics who specialises in science and technology. His essay noted that governments (eg in the USA and the UK) have funded, through their science agencies, major research breakthroughs using taxpayer funds, including the discovery of monoclonal antibodies by the UK Medical Research Council; the US National Science Foundation’s funding of what became the Google search engine; and all the technologies which make Apple’s smart phone ‘smart’ – the internet, wireless technologies, GPS, microelectronics, touch-screen displays, and even the SIRI personal assistant.

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Imminent disruption of the broadcast TV industry

I wrote this piece for the Irish Times,  which was duly published 29th July last.  In it I note that the Irish Government has just produced a 5 year projection (they call it a “review”) of the public sector broadcasting sector in Ireland.  I believe that the traditional broadcast TV sector is ripe for disruption,  and mention a few indicators – not least Boxfish.   This article was also written just before the announcement of Chromecast….

Five years ago, in July 2008, who would have predicted the precipitous decline of the PC business? For the prior year, industry analyst Gartner reported that 271 million PCs had been shipped worldwide; by 2012 this had risen to 353 million. However, the PC business is now in serious decline, and some are predicting perhaps less than 300 million units for 2013  — a decline of at least 15 percent from 2012.

Back in July 2008, the iPhone had been shipping for about a year. The first Android phone was not sold until October 2008. The iPad was not launched until April 2010: it has since made the internet accessible to the non-PC literate, including many young and seniors. Who knows what the next five years will bring ? Continue reading

Posted in business models, Dail, economy, Enterpreneurship, IPTV, Ireland, Irish Times, media, politics, TV | 1 Comment