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The Briefcase: Broadband wars, gobshites and taking a bite out of Apple

This was the week in business.

APPLE IS WORTH more than any other public company in the world, in case you haven’t heard. A cool $627 billion (€498 billion) on today’s share price.

Which makes the news that a small software firm in Athlone, a midlands town renowned for its bogs, was standing in the way of the gargantuan US tech firm and the obvious name for its long-awaited smartwatch all the more incredible.

While you might say tomato and I say tomato (I know it’s spelt the same, but imagine them pronounced differently), Apple has thus far been a big fan of saying pretty much i-everything.

iPad, iPhone, iPod, iMac… So why not an iWatch? Well, here’s how that riddle played out this week as we churn through everything that happened in business:

Need to know

What’s in a name anyway? Ahh, “I cannot talk about this”

Few people had probably heard of Athlone-based Probendi until it emerged the software company, set up by Italian ex-pat Daniele Di Salvo in 2006, was the owner of the coveted iWatch brand name in Europe.

Despite Apple putting in some serious groundwork to get its hands on the trademark everywhere from Mexico to Turkey, the moniker was seemingly off limits in what would be one of its biggest markets.

Given that the tech company has about as deep pockets as pockets can go, you might think a repeat of Apple’s rumoured $60 million payout to a Chinese firm for the name iPad was on the cards.

But on RTE radio this week, Di Salvo was keeping very tight lipped about whether he had fielded any approaches from Apple.

I cannot talk about this,” was the response.

We all know the Californian company eventually opted for the name Apple Watch so maybe boss Tim Cook and his comrades just decided there was no need to keep putting the “i” into its business.

Or perhaps Probendi proved less flexible than its name suggests and Apple was left to opt for option number two in the naming stakes.

Apple Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP/Press Association Images Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP/Press Association Images / AP/Press Association Images

Nice to know

Eircom and Vodafone look set to go head to head in the superfast broadband market as both telecoms companies announced they were rolling out fibre-to-the-home networks. Eircom claims its scheme will hit 66 regions, including every county town in Ireland, by the end of 2017, while Vodafone’s joint venture with ESB is aiming for 50 towns in its first stage

EU economies posted a big surplus thanks mainly to the export powerhouse that is Germany. The current account balance hit €32.6 billion in the second quarter of 2014, according to Eurostat. But that’s not necessarily a good thing for the embattled eurozone, where Germany’s austerity habit has been raising a few blood pressures as neighbouring economies struggle

Clothing retailers are sweating on more wintry conditions coming to the UK and Ireland to help their bottom lines. Fashion chain Next forecast lower-than-expected sales this quarter, the latest retailer to blame the Indian summer for punching a hole in its balance sheets. The results came as the latest Irish retail figures showed car, furniture and electrical goods sales were all going well, but other industries like food and fashion weren’t

Nervous Animated GIF Giphy Giphy

Apple head Tim Cook sealed his mantle as the “most powerful gay man in America” when he publicly announced he was “proud to be gay”. While the boss of the world’s most valuable company had never denied his sexuality, it was the first time he openly acknowledged what he called “among the greatest gifts God has given me”

Now you know

“Sack the gobshites” was among the tips for success we picked up from millionaire entrepreneur Jerry Kennelly, the founder and CEO of, during his speech to small business leaders

Ireland’s advertising watchdog upheld complaints against Eircom, Volkswagen and Burger King, among others. The fast-food chain drew the regulator’s ire for claims its fries had “30% less fat that a leading competitor” without naming that competitor

One for the road

A humble little company called Journal Media, best known for being the operation behind extremely popular websites like and DailyEdge.ierevealed plans this week to nearly double its workforce over the next three years.

But as some of our eagle-eyed readers pointed out, not everyone was feeling the cheer during this earlier photo taken when we hit 200,000 Twitter followers.

Journal team 2 There's always one...

We are pleased to report that after a few days of A Clockwork Orange-style aversion therapy, he’s on the same page as the rest of us now.

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READ: Everyone hates Irish Water, Nama dramas and R.I.P. Nokia >

READ: Big pharma, the price of power and a little thing called the budget >

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