Little scope for influence at EU meetings
There will be support for big ticket projects but there will also be an increased focus on lending to SMEs.
According to data from from Eurostat, SMEs represent 99 per cent of firms here and 68 per cent of employment.
That’s why the Government made it such a focus of the last budget and its recent jobs action plan.
Since early 2009, the EIB has provided €510 million to Irish SMEs via AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank.
It was vital funding at a time when credit markets were frozen.
With its AAA rating, the EIB can access funds at rock-bottom rates. This makes its loans very attractive and with credit remaining tight in Ireland, there’s likely to be no shortage of takers for its increased funding over the next three years.
Mobile platform battle enters next phase
The mobile industry is preparing for a fresh platform battle. The market for smartphone operating systems offers enormous potential to the victors – and even the also-rans – and this week saw the announcement of several new competitors.
At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Mozilla gave details of its open-source system. Meanwhile Jolla, a company set up by former Nokia employees, has begun planning a flotation as it pegs its future on reviving a discarded mobile operating system that was once seen as the Finnish group’s smartphone future.
The scale of the challenge facing both is daunting. They are taking on the Google Android and Apple iOS systems. These are the big guns in any battle and have a substantial hold on the market. Google has almost 70 per cent of the global smartphone market, with Apple on 21 per cent, according to Gartner’s latest figures. Microsoft’s Windows and BlackBerry are the most established groups to challenge for at least third place.
Yet there is clearly a belief in the mobile industry that there is room for new players. Mozilla has the backing of 18 mobile groups around the world for its new platform.
Meanwhile, Jolla will roll out its first devices this year using Sailfish, an open-source platform based on the MeeGo operating system developed by Nokia.
No doubt these emerging mobile operating systems are hoping to gain even a small share of the huge global smartphone market, where the focus has moved to emerging markets that have yet to widely adopt internet-connected phones.
Mozilla’s aim is to “connect the next billion” customers who will start to use smartphones in the next few years.
Antti Saario, co-founder and chairman of Jolla, said it would focus on the Chinese mobile market, where the company has struck a distribution deal with the mobile retailer D Phone.
New players would be welcomed by global telecoms groups who want to bring some balance back to the market and challenge the dominance of current players.