Friday 14 December 2012

Google's Map App. An overnight success. Literally. Goes to the number 1 free app, overnight. This is a thing of beauty.

Extraordinary result for Google in one night....and it is stunning. Stunning.

Overnight, Google's Map App for Iphone has gone to number 1 in the Apple App list. It is the top free App overtaking games and YouTube. Mind you, Apple's Maps aren't what you might call.... great. 

Remember Tim Cook's apology after it was shown that an air plane runway had appeared in a main shopping area. It lead to tabloid questions as to whether Pilots depended on Apple's Map? Because if they did, we're all doomed. (Sure they do). Imagine getting into the pilots seat of an aircraft, turning to you navigator co-pilot and saying, "you can relax, I have my maps on my iphone". Really.

Although to be fair to Apple, they're giving their competitors a fair shake on their App store - like Google.

Google have spent 7 years getting this product better and better and they added everything they can - from Apartments to roundabouts. "It's as smooth as a videogame" one report said and swiping (50% of map usage is mobile), moves the map experience along....which is pretty much described by all as, "beautiful". Swear. A beautiful Map App.

As you look at the map, you can swipe up an "info sheet" telling you about the bars and even more bars in the area. Restaurants, Theatres etc. too. 

It gives easy zoom in and out and multiple routes of getting from A to B. And controlled by a Siri-like voice from Google Now.

Public transport details are there too. 

And the App is here too

You should get it.
Everyone else has.
And it comes as no surprise - it deserves everything that's been said.
It's just a case of "here's how it should be".

Thursday 13 December 2012

Google releases its top search terms globally and in Ireland. The list is here. Any guesses?

Google have released its top searches for 2012.

Whitney Houston topped the list unfortunately. And she also topped many other lists from other searches around the world.

'Gangnam Style' was next up, then 'Hurricane Sandy' in third. 

'IPad3' came in 4th, followed by 'Diablo 3' (a game), 'Kate Middleton' was 6th. I guess that might have something to do with the, eh, "pictures".

In 7th was 'Olympics 2012', 'Amanda Todd' after that (she commited suicide in October and posted a video about her bullying online - RIP), 'Michael Clarke Duncan' was 9th (American actor from The Green Mile who died in September) and lastly was 'BBB12'.

BBB12? You don't know what it is? Big Brother Brasil 12. Neither did I.

Popstars 'One Direction' and Selema Gomez did very well on image searches. 

In Google+, SOPA did well as a term. It's The Stop Online Piracy Act so I'm guessing the guilty went searching....although it did generate a lot of Internet protest.

You'll find it all the data and terms here

And Video of the year?
The bloke jumping from Outer Space possibly the Ad of the year for Red Bull.

In Ireland it reads as Euro 2012 (Soccer) as being top search, followed by Katie Taylor (Boxing Gold Medallist). The highest "How to" was "How to Draw" ("How to Knit" was 5th), highest celeb was Craig Doyle, highest politician was Enda Kenny (Prime Minister), highest band was Kodaline, Moone Boy the highest TV Show and The Ryder Cup Team, the highest sports team.

Interesting stuff.

So if you're doing an Ad, get Craig Doyle (I/we used him extensively for Irish Rail TV commercials in the past and he's a lovely bloke), learn how to draw and watch Moone Boy. Then you'll be very cool. On Google.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Time Magazine announces its "Gadget of the year".

Time Magazine has just published its annual list of "top 10 gadgets of the year". That's issue 1, volume 1 above.

The winner was the Iphone 5 of which Time said, "Apple still has no peer in the smartphone market". Indeed, correct.

At number 6 was Apple's Mac-Book pro. At number 9 was Nest, the thermostat created by a former Apple executive. Microsoft's new Surface Tablet made it too at number 7.

The list is:

1. Iphone 5, 
2 Nintendo WiiU, 
3 Sony Cyber-shot RX100 (hear, hear, magnificent piece of kit), 
4 Raspberry Pi, 
5 Lytro, 
6 Apple's MacBook Pro, 
7 Microsoft Surface Tablet, 
8 Galaxy Note, 
9 Nest, 
10 Simple TV.

Simple TV is a set-top box that allows streaming and gets my vote too. Have a look at it. The Samsung Galaxy doesn't deserve its place having been found guilty of copying the Iphone, which certainly does deserve to be top of the heap. The original Iphone topped the list in 2007. The Ipad2 did the same last year. In 2010, the Ipad1 topped the list. 

Spot a trend?
It's called Apple Genius.

Tuesday 11 December 2012

The Tax controversy continues. Now Google is in the frame. And Ireland is still in the dock.

Google now enters the frame regarding the ongoing tax controversy in the UK, Europe and Ireland.

According to The Sunday Independent, it has paid less that 70 million euro tax between 2005 and 2011 on sales of 47 billion through its Irish operations. That's 0.14% tax.

It keeps tax bills low through royalty payments filtered through Ireland, the Netherlands and then eventually....Bermuda. Tax research UK said that Ireland has the "laxest transfer pricing rules of anywhere in Europe" and "Ireland doesn't ask questions of companies that are located there". It would seem we want them so badly, we let them off all the hooks.

France has raided their offices many times and slapped Google with a 1.68 billion tax bill on the other hand. Italy are doing something similar and have told parliament that they have found millions in undeclared income and unpaid tax.

A British parliamentary body have dubbed Google's tax practices, with notable reference to Ireland as "utterly immoral" because tax avoidance is not illegal per se.

Google is shifting income from where they do business to tax shelters - Ireland being Europe's biggest. The Starbucks issue is really bringing all this into focus and will lead to changes in international law.

Google Inc., the holding company for example was able to only pay 2.5 billion tax on 26 billion of profits in 2011. Not bad eh?

There's no doubt Google do comply with all Irish tax regulation but this is what is being called into question. Ireland and a tax regime that helps large multinationals avoid tax elsewhere.

The whole saga is unravelling and Ireland is starting to look like the con of Europe. Our European partners will not let us away with this any longer.

Monday 10 December 2012

Starbucks try to sort it, Microsoft now in the Tax avoidance headlights. Ireland is facilitating widespread European tax avoidance. Shocking.

Actually that's a TV commercial that was used around the world in 2009 for IDA Ireland. I was on the team that did it and were terribly proud of it then. Now, I'm not, in what's developing as being more clear that Irish investment policy is a sham and simply facilitating widespread tax evasion.

Ireland, it is becoming clear, is at the centre of facilitating widespread European tax avoidance along with countries like Luxembourg and Bermuda. Our investment policy in attracting high-profile US dot coms, is nothing to do with innovation or a "great workforce" that draws US multinationals here - it's because of our tax breaks, pure and simple. It allows them to divert other european revenue to Ireland, declare it here and pay low tax. Rather than declare it where it's generated and pay it there.

The premise that big multinationals invest in Ireland because of something other than tax, is a lie. You can see previous blogs on this issue here;

- On Starbucks UK  

- On last weeks Dropbox announcement to base in Dublin 

- And general tax avoidance

Starbucks, following a series of protests against them in the UK Saturday, by 'UKUncut' after the dreadful revelations regarding their low, low, UK tax, have made efforts to settle. However, the whole tax avoidance story against Facebook, Amazon, Starbucks and others emerging, threw Ireland into the headlights. It's their stories that's unravelling ours.

Vodafone now are starting to get a mention and they too have a major Irish presence.

Starbucks attempted settlement with UK Revenue by offering to pay 10 million a year tax, for two years. Big deal. Their chief executive, gets 16 million a year alone. Their brand is damaged for ever and they'll not recover from it.

Being mentioned too, by the US Government as Europe's "biggest tax haven" and, mentioned in the same breath as countries like Belize and The Cayman Islands, Is good old Ireland. Ireland's investment policy, it's becoming obvious, seems to be driven by helping major companies avoid tax elsewhere. In fact, 50% of Irish government income revenue tax comes from US Multinationals. Clearly, they don't generate that tax and revenue in Ireland.

At a meeting I attended with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last Thursday, she talked about US companies investment in Ireland. At nearly 2 billion usd, it's more than US companies invest in India, Brazil, China, and Russia....COMBINED. Now we know why.

The reason? Nice climate? Nah. Great workforce? nope. Super tax incentives? Absolutely. And for most, call that, tax avoidance.

And this is an Irish Government, knowingly complicit in widespread tax avoidance, that persecutes its own citizens to pay their tax. 

And a new brand to take over the Irish story as a tax avoider (taking the mantle from Starbucks), is our good friends, Microsoft.

Microsoft is channelling Windows 8 online sales to Luxembourg in order to avoid tax in the UK of over 2 billion euro. According to The Sunday Times, Microsoft keeps a small office in a Luxembourg business park with 6 staff that handles millions of pounds in European online sales.

The bulk of that money is then transferred elsewhere. Any ideas? Yep to its European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland. Profits are then routed to Bermuda without UK corporation tax being paid.

Bermuda? Luxembourg? Dublin? And this is Microsoft. Dear oh dear. Ireland's role in this is truly appalling.

Luxembourg is a long practitioner of these black arts and is now the highest GDP per head of the population in the world, largely because of these sham transactions. Its tax rate of 21% can be reduced through negotiation and other royalty taxes can be as low as 6% to even 1%. 

(Indeed, it's right bang in the middle of the new, and coming to a screen near you, JP Morgan tax avoidance scheme - 200 million? JP Morgan? THE brand of trust??? Jesus).

One of the most profitable companies in Luxembourg is Amazon who has their European headquarters there. European Headquarters in Luxembourg??? ...jeez. Amazon therefore avoids UK tax on about 2.9 billion sterling of revenue generated by British consumers.

Apple is at it too. Its sales of UK Itunes goes straight to its HQ in Luxembourg. With a turnover of 836 million sterling, it employs 16 staff. For a company turning over near a billion, 16 people. A sham!!!

Microsoft's online store in the UK references the fact that if you buy online you are in fact dealing with Microsoft Luxembourg and ultimately, as we all know now, Ireland

One Microsoft Ireland company accounts reveal it receives about 1.7 billion sterling in UK revenue and no corporation tax is paid on any of that money. Another Microsoft Ireland company - Microsoft Ireland research - reported 4.3 billion usd in profits for licensing rights in 2011 (so clearly not generated in Ireland) which presumably paid the super Irish tax avoidance rate of 12.5% or lower.

Profits from this Irish company are paid to another Irish company - Round Island One - which pays its dividends to Round Island Holdings based in....Bermuda. Shocking. 

I am Irish. 

A country that has put its citizens into poverty in order to pretend that it was "honourable" and honouring promises to bank investors (bondholders). One wonders was pressure put on by these multinationals?

When in fact it was at the same time dishonouring its European partners by facilitating enormous tax avoidance. IDA need to explain it all now.

This needs disclosure because if we don't that, our European partners will demand it. We should act before they start to crucify us over this. 
And they will.

We're looking like the con merchants of Europe.