Skype tells local vendors to `think outside of Taiwan'

By Jason Tan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Thu, Dec 07, 2006 - Page 12

A co-founder of Skype yesterday called on local vendors to "think outside of Taiwan," in a bid to further cash in on the worldwide phenomenon of the world's leading Internet phone service.

"There are a lot of good software and hardware engineers in Taiwan and they have good ideas. But they don't think big enough," said Geoffrey Prentice, who is also Skype's chief strategy officer.

Do not just think about the users in Taiwan, but try to expand their horizons to the world, Prentice told reporters in Taipei after delivering a keynote speech at the "Skype Day in Taiwan" workshop -- the only Skype gathering in Asia this year.

Thinking globally would help local companies reach out to a much larger Skype user base, which now has 136 million registered members in the world, he said.

Citing his home country, Swe-den, which has a population of 9 million, Prentice said gaining a huge market share there does not speak for much success.

The "think big" attitude has made Skype the world's most popular Internet phone service since its launch in August 2003, as it allows free calls among members anywhere in the world.

Currently, devices catering to Skype, such as Wi-Fi phones have a market size of US$1.5 billion, a huge jump from last year's US$200 million, Prentice said.

Eyeing the Skype craze, a horde of local hardware companies have been jumping into the development of related devices.

The companies include wireless equipment player Accton Technology Corp (智邦科技), motherboard maker Asustek Computer Inc (華碩電腦), and Ipevo Inc -- a subsidiary of PC Home Online (網路家庭).

Taiwan, which saw the launch of Skype in July 2004, has 4.5 million users to date, up from 3 million last year.

In the second quarter of next year, Skype is expected to establish a center in Taiwan to certify Skype compatible products.