Eurobites: Ericsson Goes After Wiko

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Swisscom H1 revenue flat; Kudelski charts its changing business mix; Irish complain about their Apple tax task.

  • Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) is suing French smartphone maker Wiko in Germany for what the vendor claims is infringement of patents essential for 2G, 3G and 4G technology, as well as "implementation" patents. As Ericsson sees it, Wiko has been treading on the vendor's toes, patents-wise, for six years. Ericsson says it has tried to establish a fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) license agreement with Wiko since May 2013, without success. Wiko began life in 2011, in Marseille, focusing on the youth market with an iconoclastic, design-led approach.

  • Fierce competition and the downward trend in fixed-line telephony kept the lid on Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM)'s half-year results, with net revenue flat at 5.69 billion Swiss francs (US$5.87 billion). EBITDA, however, grew by 1.5% year-on-year to CHF2.26 billion ($2.33 billion), largely driven by its Italian broadband subsidiary, Fastweb, which itself recorded EBITDA up 20.3%, partly thanks to compensation from legal proceedings. Overall, net income at Swisscom grew CHF51 million ($52.6 million) or 6.5% year-on-year to CHF839 million ($866.5 million).

  • Cord-cutting at European pay-TV operators is shifting the business mix at Kudelski Group , away from traditional digital TV solutions and toward cybersecurity, Internet TV and IoT offerings. This was highlighted in the Group's half-year results, which saw revenues rise 12.5% to $552 million but operating income fall 80.2% to $6.7 million.

  • The Irish government isn't happy about having to collect what the European Commission perceives as Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s unpaid back taxes. Citing an interview with Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper, the Daily Telegraph reports that the Irish finance minister, Paschal Donohoe, maintained that Apple did not benefit from any special tax rules in Ireland. The government is, however, resigned to collecting the missing €13 billion ($15.2 billion), pending an appeal by Apple. (See Eurobites: Don't Pick On Apple, Says Irish Telecom Tycoon, Eurobites: Irish Cabinet Decides on Apple Tax Tactics and Eurobites: EC to Charge Apple With Illegal Tax Deals in Ireland.)

  • EE , the mobile-and-more operator owned by BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), says its set-top box is the first on the UK market to offer a hands-free control option via Amazon Alexa, the voice-activated "digital assistant" that operates through Amazon Echo or Echo Dot. Users can summon up a selection of recommended shows and then ask for them to be recorded via the magic of human speech.

  • The UK's rail users don't think much of the mobile broadband connectivity available on their train journeys, but think even less of any WiFi that is offered. That, broadly speaking, is the conclusion reached in a survey conducted by YouGov for Cobham Wireless , which polled more than 2,000 people across Britain. Of those polled, 51% preferred to connect to the Internet via their mobile provider, compared to just 36% who favored the public WiFi option. Concerns about the security of WiFi networks on trains, and resentment about having to share personal information to access the WiFi, were cited as reasons for this split. Only 13% of commuters said the public WiFi on their train "was any good." More than half of rail passengers said they were prevented from working some of the time during their commute.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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