Belfast Telegraph

Web Summit 2015: Speakers from Facebook, Dell and Google descend on Dublin's RDS #websummit

By John Mulgrew in Dublin

Giants from Facebook, Dell, Ford and the sporting world took to the stage for the first day of this year's Web Summit in Dublin.

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High profile names included Dell chief executive Michael Dell - whose company is about to buy EMC in the world's biggest tech takeover - as well as Facebook's chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer and Instagram founder Mike Krieger.

The Web Summit is expected to attract in excess of 40,000 people from more than 140 countries across three days.

It's been held in Dublin since its inception in 2010 but from next year it will be held in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon.

Top tech executive Mike Schroeopfer told packed-out crowds at the centre stage about Facebook's plans for growth.

And he also looked at the potential future areas of expansion, which include a greater use of video as well as virtual reality (VR).

Also speaking at the event, one of the giants of industry, Bill Ford of the Ford Motor Company, said the company has moved from a truck company, to a mobility business.

Mr Ford told the thousands gathered at the centre stage about his Irish roots and how the company is evolving with rising car use and increasingly cluttered roads across the globe.

"It's about how do you turn a car from a piece of transportation to something which can make peoples' lives better?" he said.

And he said the company could look at working with technology firms such as Apple and Google in the future.

Meanwhile, Palmer Luckey - founder of Oculus VR, an advanced virtual reality headset - said his product is aimed at helping people learn.

"It's going to be mainstream at some point," he said.

"There's a misconception that it's a gaming technology. That's a new thing. Over the decades, it wasn't about gaming, it was about a wide variety of things."

And he said one day in the near future, VR headsets would be more prevalent than the use of smartphones. "It's one of these technologies that allows you to do everything.

"It's really easy to be excited about technology that will allow you to do anything," he added.

Speaking about 4K television, which BT was the first to launch in the UK, its head of consumer business, John Petter, said the new resolution was "better" than seeing the real thing up close.

"It makes you feel like you are there, as the picture quality is so vivid."

Mr Petter also said it was a "big step" for BT to have received initial approval for BT's massive takeover of mobile network EE.

But it wasn't just tech heads, with current Tour de France champion Chris Froome speaking about returning to the road next year and getting back to his intense training regime.

"You can be normal again and have a beer and a burger. But from November on, it's very much a full-on lifestyle to get ready for the Tour de France again," he said.

"It's only normal to have that reset at the end of the year.

"The bookies have got me down as favourite for next year, but I try not to think too much about the past.

"It's been a fantastic season, but the real challenge is going in and backing it up."

He said there was "more pressure on your shoulders" returning to the roads after victory.

Instagram founder Mike Krieger spoke about the evolution of the picture-sharing social media platform, with 75% of all photographs now taken on camera phones.

A big crowd-pleaser, as the main events drew to a close, he spoke about expanding from around 200,000 photos uploaded on the platform each day, to 80 million.

It wasn't just the leviathans of industry and technology flocking to Dublin, as some of Northern Ireland's own start-ups were also making an appearance.

That included Belfast's Brewbot, which allows beer brewers to take a lot of the complexities out of the brewing process by using a smartphone app.

Cookstown-based web-mapping software firm, Azimap, was also showing off its products.

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