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BUSINESS NEWS JAN 22, 2008
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Deloitte analyses top trends for the technology, media and telecoms industries for 2008

The Deloitte Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) Industry Group today announced its predictions for the TMT industry in 2008. The reports forecast that 2008 may be the year in which, among others, there will be increased online authenticity required by online traders, the reluctance to spend money on digital downloads will mean the industry will look at ways of making music more tangible and we will see the number of devices that incorporate GPS technology grow rapidly.

Tom Cassin, TMT Partner at Deloitte Ireland comments: "The technology, media and telecommunications sectors are challenging environments with constantly shifting dynamics for business and consumers to consider. The Deloitte Predictions aim to provide a perspective on some of the principal trends expected to impact business and society over 2008 and beyond. Digital technologies will continue to have a profound impact on people's everyday lives, and on business. How companies choose to create, distribute and charge for products, content and services will be critical for delivering sustained revenue growth."

Technology Predictions

The rising value of digital protection

Since the launch of the first PC, the volume of and, more critically, the value of data stored on PCs, has grown exponentially. In 2008, some owners will spend more on virus protection, online backup and insurance over the lifetime of the computer, than they did on the initial outlay for the PC. This trend will likely extend beyond the PC to other devices, from MP3 players to mobile phones, from DVRs to external hard drives. All hold different forms of valuable data.

From anonymity to authenticity

It is often argued that one of the great benefits of the Web is anonymity. However in 2008, there may be an increasing clamour, from regulators, users and online traders, for the Internet to require people to provide authenticated identity every time they make any transaction via the Web. A move to online authentication, while initially being regarded as an affront to liberty by some, could ultimately be good for business and for users. For example, bolstering consumer confidence in e-commerce, online auctions, Internet chat rooms and other transactional websites should help sustain growth, suppressing fears about the growing volumes of online frauds or other malign behaviour.

A digital divide for the Digerati

The digital divide that afflicts users of technology will become deeper than ever in 2008. This division affects people who own or need access to digital data, but are unable to access it. This digital divide is most vexing when the existence of multiple standards for a particular type of file limits the utility of current computing systems.

Across the TMT industry, there has always been a tension between the desire of companies to own proprietary solutions, and the desire of individuals and corporations for established and robust standards. In the realm of data storage, this tension is likely to become increasingly apparent during 2008, and dealing with it in a manner that satisfies the needs of both groups is likely to become a substantial challenge.

Media Predictions

The living room moves closer to being public enemy number one

These days, itís hard not to feel guilty about our impact on the environment. So in 2008 it may feel more responsible to stay at home and indulge in the innocent pleasure of watching television, or listening to music, or perhaps even playing a video game, albeit one not requiring too much physical movement. But the proliferation of technology in the living room is creating its own distinctive carbon footprint, and this is expected to grow in 2008 and beyond. The media and consumer electronics industries should consider how the living roomís carbon footprint could be reduced without the need to revert to antiquated technology. One approach would be to reduce unnecessary power consumption, for example by forcing devices into standby when not in use.

Time for music to get physical again

Over the past twenty years the price of concert tickets has climbed steadily. Over the same period, however, the price of recorded music has fallen. The reluctance to spend money on digital downloads may be because it is hard for consumers to value intangible products. Customers may be happier to pay, and to pay more, for music if it were contained within a physical wrapper. 2008 could therefore be the year in which the music becomes physical again. The industry could evolve from offering digital downloads for transfer to a device, to selling pre-recorded MP3 players, containing a single album or even an artistís entire back catalogue. The industry should look at various ways of making music tangible, while still providing the flexibility of digital downloads. One solution would be to bundle a physical copy, or even an accompanying book or T-shirt, with the digital download.

Long live traditional television, thanks to Internet television.

Televisionís imminent demise will be forecast in 2008. But the sector should remain in overall good health throughout the year. Internet television will likely contribute to traditional televisionís fortunes. This outcome may appear perverse, particularly when Internet television has been regarded by some influential commentators as a direct competitor to traditional television. But it appears that Internet television is another medium whose quality, set of content formats and audience largely differs from traditional television audiences. Traditional broadcasters should work out how online channels can complement or supplement broadcast content, rather than cannibalise it. Internet television may find it more profitable to serve as an additional route to markets for traditional television than to try and rout the incumbents.

Telecoms Predictions

Prey becomes predator

While the credit crunch may dampen the overall pace of mergers and acquisitions activity in 2008, the will to grow via acquisitions is likely to remain strong in the telecommunications sector. However while established, developed-world mobile operators may be looking for acquisitions, in 2008, the tables may be turned. The leading operators in emerging markets may transform themselves from prey to predator, with the cash generated from hundreds of millions of new subscribers providing a potent war chest, unconstrained by the higher interest rates that have followed the credit crunch.

Questioning the need for speed

The debate over how fast is fast enough in the telecommunications is likely to be as vigorous in 2008 as in earlier years. But concerns over the cost of financing will cause telecommunications companies and their shareholders to question far more aggressively the business case for speed. Telecommunications companies should be careful not to prioritise the quest for attaining the limits of what is technically possible with the unrelenting need for profitability.

Giving mobile GPS direction

In 2008 prices for GPS chipsets is expected to fall to just a few dollars and the number of devices that incorporate the technology is expected to grow rapidly. In 2008 the mobile industry may overlook several critical differences between how satellite navigation is used in vehicles and how it might be used by people on foot. Thus while a growing number of GPS-enabled mobile phones may be shipped and sold in 2008, aside from the initial novelty, their use may be infrequent. Which may mean additional costs, but with disappointing added value.

Exploiting new mediaís growing need to communicate

In 2008 digital communications will become more voluminous, varied, vibrant and vital to the way we live than ever before. New media companies, such as social networks, synthetic worlds and blogs, are likely to offer the services through which a large volume of traditional and newer forms of communication is initiated. All of these trends may reassure the telecommunications industry that demand for communications is more vibrant than ever. Demand for new media might however also highlight the telecommunications sectorís inability to monetize more of this demand. Communications companies may consider that in 2008 they are still allowing new media companies too large a share of communications revenues.

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