Although worldwide VoIP market is booming, and Skype got wooed by millions of users, its road to China is not so bright as in other world, especially its VoIP revenue.
We know there are four kinds of voip services: phone to phone, phone to PC, PC to phone, PC to PC. In China, the phone to phone and phone to PC is clearly defined as the basic telecom services that no cooperates besides those six services providers (China Mobile, China Telecom, China Netcom, China Unicom, China Railcom, China Satellite Com.) can touch.
As to the PC to phone market, there are still legal restrictioins from the specifications of the Ministry of Information Industry (MII). According to the notification no. 413(2005) at July 18, MII expressed their serious attitude on the ban of commercial PC-phone voip services, except the trial at four cities countrywide: two for China Telecom at South China(Shenzhen and ShangRao, Jiangxi Province), while two for China Netcom at North China(Changchun, Jilin Province and Tai’an, Shandong Province). During the service trial by Shenzhen Telecom(a subsidiary company of China Telecom), the price of IP phone is lowered to 0.20RMB/minute(~2.5cents per minute), no matter domestic or international calls.
The joint venture with TOM won’t help to walk around the restriction, unless it pursue another joint-venture with China Telecom or China Netcom. But without clear outlook to commercial benefits, joint ventures are not attractive to those two fixed line carriers at all.
Considering those disadvantages from legal restriction, most revenue of Skype’s SkypeIn and SkypeOut will be originated only from the international calls. So the marketing approaches shown below might be suitable for Skype into China:
- the First, continuously fight for a increasing market share at IM and PC to PC VoIP market, competing against QQ, MSN, YIM, Google Talk, Sina UC, Netease PP and etc. Skype’s competitive advantages come from its voice quality, encryption, ease of use, and etc.
- the Second, cooperation with those smartphone/handset/pda hardware vendors for solutions like USB-plugable PC phones.