Skype Inks China Joint Venture Deal
Skype and Tom Online plan to pool their resources in a newly created joint venture in China to bring Skype's VoIP software to China.
The companies not only plan to further integrate Skype's VoIP software and services with Tom Online's wireless Internet users, but they also intend to deliver their simplified Chinese version of the Skype software to Internet users and service providers in China.
The two companies first launched the Chinese version of the software in November 2004. To date, according to the companies, the co-branded software already has 3.4 million users.
IDC calculates that China's Internet user base will grow to 154 million people by 2007. The country has more than 360 million mobile phone users. "In less than a year since beginning our cooperation with Skype, we have seen robust growth in user numbers," says Tom Online CEO Wang Lei Lei. "It indicates Chinese Internet users' readiness to take advantage of the latest communication technologies available."
Although financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, Tom Online will own a 51 percent stake in the JV, while Skype will control the remaining 49 percent.
Last week, German mobile carrier E-Plus announced plans to offer Skype's VoIP software to its wireless customers. The software initially will be available on Motorola handsets, but additional models from other vendors are expected to be added to the plan in the future. E-Plus, which represented Skype's first carrier win, will begin offering the VoIP capability as part of its service in October.