Top IT stories of 2010 - November

Biggest software piracy payout, DemoCamp Dubai shows innovation, Steve Ballmer in Saudi

Tags: 2010retrospective
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Top IT stories of 2010 - November Grahame Maher of Vodafone Qatar passed away (ITP Images)
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By  Mark Sutton Published  December 23, 2010

November opened with sad news of the death of Grahame Maher, CEO of Vodafone Qatar. Maher had become a popular figure in the regional telecom sector and had led Vodafone Qatar since 2008. Maher started his career in telecoms in Australia in the early 1990s when he launched one of the country's first MVNOs, along with his business partner.

SAP announced plans to double its resources in the MENA region at its SAP Forum 2010 in Dubai. The company said it planned to expand in the region off the back of 33% year-on-year growth, and would aim to double its local head count in the next two years.

In the US however, SAP was making news for the wrong reasons, after the company was ordered to pay Oracle $1.3 billion for illegally downloading Oracle software.

The case was related to SAP's now-defunct TomorrowNow subsidiary, a third party support provider, which had downloaded millions of Oracle updates that it was not entitled to. Oracle described the win as the largest amount ever awarded for software piracy.

The case saw some choice words from Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, and the spectacle of ex-SAP boss, Leo Apotheker, apparently avoiding California, the HQ for HP, for fear of being subpoenaed to give testimony in the case.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer paid a flying visit to the region, presenting a keynote address to Microsoft OpenDoor in Riyadh and meeting officials to discuss IT and economic development of the Kingdom.

Microsoft also announced plans to put Office into the cloud, with its Office 365 service. Office 365, which is due to launch in 2011, will bring together Microsoft Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online into one cloud-based offering, with different offerings for SMBs and enterprise customers.

In the telecoms sector, Du reported a record company revenue increase for Q3 2010, with profits up 31% year on year to AED1.74 billion ($473,766). The company continued to add subscribers and has seen 159,800 new net active mobile subscribers during the quarter, taking the total at quarter end to 4,080,900.

November also saw ITP's Comms MEA Awards, where UAE telco Etisalat dominated,  taking two awards itself and two for its subsidiaries.

Facebook was briefly blocked in Saudi Arabia. Initial reports quoted a spokesman at the country's regulators, CITC, as saying that the social networking site had ‘crossed a line', although an official statement said the blocking had been due to a technical error.

Meanwhile Bahrain's TRA released figures showing a small increase in average internet speed in the country in the third quarter, as part of its Broadband Quality of Service Analysis Report. The Bahrain TRA began monitoring broadband quality earlier in the year, with the aim of being able to gauge whether ISPs in the country are delivering what they promise in terms of quality, allowing end users to see who the best service providers in the country are and to track whether services improve over time.

In hardware, Acer unveiled a new dual-screen tablet PC. The 14 inch Iconia tablet device has a traditional clamshell type form factor, but replaces the keyboard with a second touchscreen and virtual keyboard.

Also in hardware, Mi-Fone, the low cost mobile phone producer, announced plans to open a manufacturing plant in the UAE in 2011. Alpesh Patel, CEO of Mi-Fone said that feasibility studies had been completed, and the company was now selecting a site and finalising financial terms, with a planned launch in August next year.

The entrepreneurial spirit was also in evidence at the sixth edition of DemoCamp Dubai. The event, which allows tech entrepreneurs to showcase innovative business ideas, threw up some notable pitches, including an enterprise platform to manage Android-based devices.

There were some staff shuffles in November, with Chris Moore returning to the regional GM post at Trend Micro, after spending just five weeks at WAN optimisation specialist Riverbed. Moore said that the reason for his short tenure as head of Riverbed for the Middle East, was based on a 'personal and career decision'.

Sherif Dahan was appointed as managing director of MSN Arabia and MSN Maghreb, joining from LINKdotNET where he was the general manager of the company's Gulf operations.

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2010 retrospective