Fri, Aug 16, 2013 - Page 13 News List

Innovation needed in app economy: Google executive

By Helen Ku  /  Staff reporter

Taiwanese technology companies must come up with new products or service ideas, instead of continuing to manufacture hardware devices, in order to succeed in the growing “app economy,” Google Taiwan managing director Chien Lee-feng (簡立峰) said yesterday.

“Taiwan’s tech industry has a legendary history, but challenges ahead are forcing firms to rethink their product strategies,” Chien said at an event yesterday.

He said anyone can now run an enterprise with the help of the Internet, which creates more convenient communication channels and a broader market containing both local and foreign consumers.

“Given that more enterprises do business via e-commerce Web sites and that more handheld device users make purchases of products or services via mobile apps, Taiwan’s tech firms can integrate their technologies with the help of the Internet to make real innovations,” Chien said.

“Taiwan’s economy needs more technological innovation because the country is rich in talent and full of strong tech knowledge, and because the ‘app economy’ is expanding at a fast pace,” he added.

Taking Cubie, an instant messaging mobile application that has already been adopted by more than 8 million users worldwide, as an example, Chien praised the Taiwan-based startup’s entrance into the mobile instant messaging market, which has been dominated by Japan’s Line Corp and the US’ WhatsApp Inc.

Cubie has software engineers that have the ability to build another Facebook Inc-like company, but the company wants to differentiate itself from others by joining the mobile instant messaging market, which Chien said requires not only creativity, but skills and vision.

“The Internet has no borders and therefore attracts consumers from any place in the world,” Cubie chief executive officer Feng Yen-wen (馮彥文) said at the same event.

Computer programming was not a challenge anymore to tech companies, but more like a “commodity” that every software engineer can own, Feng said.

“The question for tech firms is how to find out what the market demands and to fulfill that need with services provided by existing technologies and with the help of the Internet,” he added.

At present, e-commerce transactions account for only 3 percent of Taiwan’s total annual retail sales, lower than the UK’s 8 percent, Chien said, citing data compiled by the government.

He said the government needs to adjust its regulations in order to help enterprises or startups develop and market their products on the Internet, which will in turn help the nation’s economy, he added.

“It’s a positive development that the government has made some progress in licensing the 4G telecom service and removed barriers for third-party payment services for e-commerce,” Chien said. “However, with regard to the Internet, much more improvement is needed.”

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