Top IT stories of 2010 - April

Retail ups and downs, storms and volcanoes and farewell to 3Com

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Top IT stories of 2010 - April Volcanic ash, bad for planes, good for comms technology vendors (Getty Images)
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By  Mark Sutton Published  December 23, 2010

April saw highs and lows in the retail sector, environment factors wreaking havoc with communications, and the departure of some well-know brands.

Mobile phone retailer Cellucom announced that it had finally closed all of its stores in the United Arab Emirates, after major stakeholder Al Rostamani Group filed for liquidation of the retailer the previous September. Cellucom CEO Arun Nagar had already left the country last year to avoid legal action. The UAE's electronics retail sector had seen a great deal of competition over the past few years, with a number of companies struggling in a saturated market.

Giving the retail sector a shot in the arm however, was arrival of the iPad tablet in the UAE. Online retailers began offering the devices at the start of the month, having imported small numbers of the iPad from the US. Despite high prices, starting at AED4,500 ($1,225.26) for the 16GB version, with the 32GB and 64GB versions costing AED5,250 ($1,429.47) and AED6,000 ($1,633.68) respectively, retailers reported huge demand and sold out their limited stock almost immediately.

Intel was also enjoying the benefits of a booming mobility market, recording its highest ever first quarter revenue of $10.3 billion, up over 400% from Q1 09, off the back of strong mobile microprocessor revenues.

PC vendor Lenovo appointed a new regional general manager for the Middle East and Pakistan in April. Ali Al Amine took on the role full time, following the resignation of Khaled Kamel earlier in the year.

Internet users in the UAE suffered disruption to service in the second half of April, following an ‘unexpected breakdown' in the Sea-ME-we 4 telecommunications cable linking Europe and Egypt. UAE operator Du said it was ready to route traffic through alternate cables, avoiding any service disruption, but rival Etisalat said it was forced to prioritise business user's service at the expense of home users. Bad weather in the Mediterranean meant it took two weeks to recover.

Environmental activity also caused chaos to global aviation traffic, as the Eyjafjallajökull volcano fired volcanic ash into the atmosphere, grounding flights. The video conferencing and telepresence sector, was not complaining however, as stranded travellers turned to digital communications instead. Skype reported that it handled over 20 million more minutes of video calls in a five day period compared to normal traffic, while video conferencing specialists Polycom saw use of its solutions hit a record high. One of their customers, Regus, which operates the largest global network of 2,500 public video conferencing rooms and telepresence suites, experienced an increase in usage of 108% in the United Kingdom and 18% across Europe.

In the security field, it was revealed that the Consulate General of India in Dubai had been compromised in a cyber espionage attack blamed on unknown persons in China. Indian national security information was stolen, including confidential documents, diplomatic correspondence, documents containing personal, financial and travel information on embassy and diplomatic staff, as well as ‘numerous' visa applications.

April saw the end of the HP ProCurve and 3Com brands, as HP combined the two under the new HP Networking brand. The move came after the completion of HP's $2.7 billion acquisition of 3Com. 3com had been a player in networking since 1979, but was bought up by HP in November 2009.

HP also made a surprise buy up of smartphone manufacturer and webOS developer Palm, for $1.2 billion. HP said the deal would "accelerate HP's growth within the more than $100 billion connected mobile device market".

Meanwhile, another established IT player was celebrating the longevity of one of its core products, as Adobe marked the 20th anniversary of Adobe Photoshop.

In Riyadh, the ninth edition of GITEX KSA was opened by Communications and Information Technology Minister Mohamed Jamil bin Ahmed Mulla.

The ninth edition of the show featured more than 450 exhibitors from 17 countries.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates became some of the first countries in the world to be able to register domain names entirely in a language other than English, as ICANN gave them permission to register internationalised domain name country code domains (IDN ccTLDs) in Arabic.

Finally Orascom and MTN confirmed that they were discussing a deal for the South African telco to take control of Orascom's African assets, although the deal eventually foundered in June.

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2010 retrospective