Sunday 21 January 2018

The Punt: Sky's the limit for telly addicts

Valitacell chief executive Terry McWade
Valitacell chief executive Terry McWade Newsdesk Newsdesk

If you're a telly addict - and let's face it, a lot of us are - then you'll be pretty happy to hear that Sky is planning to roll out a new set-top box.

The box - dubbed 'Sky Q' - will allow users to record and watch as many as four programmes at the same time and on multiple devices. So if you're so inclined you'll be able to lie in bed watching 'Goals on Sunday' on your phone while recording highlights of yesterday's rugby.

According to the 'Sunday Telegraph' Sky claims the box will offer an experience similar to Apple TV and Netflix, and believe it will be a big weapon for the company in its big money battle with BT Sport.

The Punt has no doubt SkyQ will be a success, and will offer all the options anyone could possibly need until Sky rolls out its next set-top box.

Sometimes you need to be a little bit wary of progress though.

There are plenty of examples of companies replacing successful products with "improvements" that are actually worse. One need only look at UPC's Horizon TV box and how it measures up against UPC's previous box.

Yes, Horizon integrates the wi-fi modem into it, and yes it can record more and have HD picture quality - but it's laggy, feels buggy at times, and the remote control and menus are much less user friendly then its predecessor, giving some UPC customers fits. Sometimes, progress just isn't better.

Valitacell gets cash injection

Tipperary-based biotech start-up Valitacell has received just over €250,000 in financial backing, the Punt has learnt.

The company has been backed by an investment from Ireland-based firm Trumera Advisors, as well as British Virgin Islands outfit Iarlann.

Valitacell, which has been established to develop "analytical solutions for the biopharmaceutical industry", was incorporated late last year. Its chief executive is Terry McWade.

He's also a director of the National Treatment Purchase Fund, and a board member of the Corporate Governance Association of Ireland.

He was deputy chairman of the Dublin Dental Hospital until last December and is a former deputy chief executive of the Royal College of Surgeons.

Trumera Advisors has two directors, including Peter Thornton, who's also a director of Valitacell.

He's the chief financial officer at Technopath Clinical Diagnostics in Tipperary and is a former Elan executive.

We're back on the plastic

It really is beginning to feel like 2006 all over again.

Last week, we had more than a little echo of the old Battle for Ballsbridge when Joe O'Reilly and Johnny Ronan secured the rights to separate parcels of land in Dublin 4 for a combined €240m.

Now we have a report from credit card giant Visa proclaiming Irish people spent €1.26bn on their Visa cards in 2014. That was an increase of 17pc year on year.

The Punt finds this a little bit concerning. Considering half the reason why the country ended up in such a mess in the first place was the fact that, in the words of our esteemed Taoiseach, we indulged in "mad borrowing", and spent money we didn't have - usually by using our flexible friend.

Are we going down this road again? Well, Visa makes the point that the report counts all sorts of Visa cards - credit, debit and pre-paid.

That is pretty heartening. Visa-debit didn't really exist at the time of the Celtic Tiger and neither did the pre-paid cards. It goes without saying that consumers tend to be more willing to spend on their debit cards than their credit cards, and it is generally more prudent to do so as well.

Visa also tells us 29pc of people plan to travel abroad more often this year. That is good news, although one hopes spending won't get out of control again.

Irish Independent

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