Fri, Sep 22, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Government looking to improve situation for Web 2.0 firms


The government is thinking about establishing a friendly environment for local companies to develop the burgeoning Web 2.0 business, hoping to expand the nation's service industry with the information-technology enabled service.

"Business opportunities brought by the Internet are substantially underestimated in Taiwan, which is the major reason why the nation lags behind the rest of the world in exploiting the Web 2.0 industry," Ke Jyh-sheng (柯志昇), president and CEO of the government-funded Institute for Information Industry, said yesterday.

Ke made the remark at a press briefing to introduce a Web 2.0 international conference -- "The Web 2.0 phenomenon in the Intelligent Times" -- which is being co-organized by the institute and scheduled to take place next Tuesday and Wednesday in Taipei.

Speakers at the conference include Yahoo product manager and co-founder and CEO of Flickr, Stewart Butterfield, founder and CEO of Bubbleshare Albert Lai, CEO of Tech Crunch, Michael Arrington, and other industry heavyweights.

Web 2.0, a phrase coined by O'Reilly Media in 2004, refers to the second-generation of Internet-based services that allow users to post and share information online.

Unlike traditional media that operate using business-to-consumer models, Web 2.0 was built by consumer-to-consumer model through which users are content providers instead of receivers, said Wang Ling-hsiang (王稜翔), chief technology officer of Internet portal PC Home Online (網路家庭).

One example of a successful business created on the Web. 2.0 concept is Flickr, an online photo management and sharing application site that was acquired by Yahoo Inc last year, Ke said.

The industry is emerging in Taiwan as well with Wretch (無名小站), the nation's largest blog site, as a leader. Wretch has about 2.8 million active members and has the world's 32nd highest traffic.

It is reported that Yahoo is planning to acquire Wretch for NT$700 million (US$21.28 million), but neither company has confirmed the deal.

Analyzing why Taiwan has not been in the forefront of banking on Web. 2.0, Shine Chen (陳函薇), an Internet industry veteran, said the dot-com crash five years ago still haunted many prospective Internet entrepreneurs.

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