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August 21, 2015

Twitter shares, Quindell crisis and Windows Server expiry – the week in big, big numbers

This week's biggest numbers in the technology industry.

By Jimmy Nicholls

August may traditionally be silly season for the press, but this year it is turning out to be a heated time for developments in the technology industry. Here’s the week’s news in numbers:

1. $39bn pumped into chip foundries by SK Group

Concerns over growth in processing power have bubbled to the surface of the chipmaking business in recent months, as semiconductor firms predict the loosening of Moore’s Law, which has historically seen processing power double every 18 months.

Even so the explosion in smartphone use has kept demand for chips healthy, prompting Korean conglomerate the SK Group to plot investing $39bn (£25bn) to fund two chipmaking facilities and bolster existing construction projects.

2. 175m public sites still reliant on Windows Server 2003

Ever since it was announced that Microsoft would be ending general support for Windows Server 2003, many in the security trade have wondered just how many websites would be left stranded on the legacy service.

This week figures from Netcraft, a firm which monitors Internet services, found that some 175 million public websites, or a fifth of the public Internet, are still using the increasingly insecure technology, equivalent to 600,000 web-facing computers.

Writing in a blog, Netcraft said: "While Microsoft does not officially offer any support beyond the extended support period, reports suggest that some companies who have not migrated in time have arranged to pay millions of dollars for custom support deals."

3. $26 Twitter IPO share price matched as stocks plunge

It has never been entirely clear how the social network Twitter planned on making money, a problem that has only been exacerbated as user growth stalled, which the number of people using it at least once a month standing at 316m for Q2 of this year, compared to Facebook’s 1.5 billion.

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Amid questions of just who is likely to take over as CEO after Dick Costolo’s departure – candidates include founder Jack Dorsey – share prices fell this week to below $26, less than the price at which the company went public in November 2013.

Among those who ditched the shares this week are American universities Harvard, Stanford, and Yale, who between them sold more than 82,000 shares this week.

4. £3bn Quindell peak value before scandal tumbled price

In April 2014 the software vendor Quindell was the darling of the London Stock Exchange’s junior market Aim, with a £3bn value that made it the largest company in the market.

That was before Gotham City Research, a short-seller, published a report quibbling the real value of the company, with scrutiny falling on how what used to a country club could have acquired Google-esque margins in just a few years.

This week Quindell appointed Indro Mukerjee as chief executive, who will have to rehabilitate the firm’s reputation. Shares are now trading at around £1.07, having fallen from a height of £6.26 at the company’s peak.

5. 13.5% growth in Chinese smartphone sales, as market slows

The expansion of the smartphone market has been one of the most impactful trends in IT for the last decade, in recent years enabling millions from poorer countries to access computing power more cheaply than before.

Data from Gartner this week indicated that adoption might be slowing around the world, sales in Q2 2015 increasing by 13.5% year-on-year to 330 million devices, a drop from Q2 2014 which saw year-on-year sales growth of 29%.

Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner, said: "China has reached saturation – its phone market is essentially driven by replacement, with fewer first-time buyers.

"Beyond the lower-end phone segment, the appeal of premium smartphones will be key for vendors to attract upgrades and to maintain or grow their market share in China."

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