Kevin from TOM
China is one of biggest “Skype countries” in terms of people using Skype. So we work a lot with TOM who manages the Skype business in China. We often meet to discuss things, whether at TOM or at one of Skype’s locations.
We had a few TOM people over in Tallinn for a week. So I talked to Kevin to learn more what he does and what TOM and the Chinese telco market in general is up to.
Download as [MP3](http://download.skype.com/share/audio/kevin_from_tom.mp3) or [OGG](http://download.skype.com/share/audio/kevin_from_tom.mp3) (length 11:47)
**Today we have an interview with Kevin from TOM. Perhaps Kevin, you can first tell us a bit in your words about what is TOM and what does TOM do?**
Hello, this is Kevin from TOM Online. TOM is the one of the biggest wireless service providers in China. We have this range of wireless applications available to China users. We are also an Internet portal, which means we have the news service, entertainment and other sections available to our users.
]]>**What is your work at TOM?**
I am the product manager in TOM-Skype team. TOM-Skype is this joint venture between TOM and Skype. The China-specific service can be provided from TOM and I’m working on that.
**What was your first contact with Skype? Was it already before you joined TOM or did you learn about it only during your work or how did that happen?**
My first encounter with Skype actually happened before I joined TOM. It was July or August 2004, before TOM-Skype was released. I was working at my previous company, it was a software company, and we were outsourcing some of our projects to another company. This company was in another city and we had to call each other a lot regarding the project. Somebody said there’s this Skype and you can call for free and the voice quality is superior. So we just installed it and asked our corresponding company to install it and we started to use it for day-to-day work and I just love to use it ever since.
**These days, how do you yourself use Skype daily? Do you use it only for work, or do you also use it to talk to friends and family and other people?**
The answer is both. At work, we have to interact with many other companies all over the country. They want to integrate Skype into their service and they want to work with Skype to provide a service in China. So my daily work would be to contact these companies and I will ask them to install Skype since they are interested doing Skype. I’d like them to have some personal experience with it. So I use Skype to contact them daily.
After work – I was in the United States for quite some time. And I still have a lot of friends there, so I use Skype to contact them.
**What kind of stuff do you use in Skype? Do you do only calls or conference calls or filetransfers or chats, or what kind of features do you use most and like most there?**
Voice call would be the first one, the one that I use the most. As the other, I use chat a lot. Other things… I use file transfer from time to time. I use it heavily internally, because I don’t want to send an e-mail – sometimes the users just don’t get it or the attachment could be too large. In such cases, file transfer is a good functionality to use.
**Let’s talk a bit about life in China. I haven’t really been to China myself and I have understood that the life and culture there differs quite a bit from what Europeans and Americans and the rest of world knows. You have been in Tallinn for a week now. How would you compare where you live and work daily, and what you see here? What are the big differences from your perspective?**
China is a large country and it has a long history, 5000 years of history. I think it’s the only culture in the world that last from the ancient time to the present time. It’s different from the Western style and so I recommend you to visit China when you have time, to see what the other culture looks like. Speaking of difference between China and Tallinn – China is so large so they have differences there all over the country. I lived in Beijing, so comparing Beijing to Tallinn… the biggest difference is, Beijing is a bigger city, larger population, so it’s crowded. You can see many people on the street and the traffic is really heavy sometimes. But here in Tallinn, you don’t see too many people on the streets and the traffic is nice even in the rush hours.
**What’s the weather like in China or Beijing during this part of the year?**
In Beijing, it’s already spring time. In Tallinn, it’s a bit colder – 5 to 10 degrees lower than in Beijing. So it’s like a month before Beijing.
**When earlier we talked to you privately over dinner, you mentioned that Chinese telecom market is probably going to see some changes going forward, as China is joining the WTO. Can you tell in a few words how it is currently and how it might change in the future?**
Currently, the Chinese telecommunication is restricted to the local companies only. There are 6 carriers which are owned by the government. But since China joined the WTO, these things are scheduled to change. So gradually China will open its telecommunication market to the outside world. Most likely early next year, 2007. At that time, the government would allow foreign investment in telecommunication carrier company, and will become more and more open after that.
**Do you think this will also influence the work of TOM Online directly somehow? Like regarding your wireless or other services?**
Yes, definitely. There is going to be change in the telecommunication market and it will change the way between service providers and carriers.
**Let’s talk about your visit this week. So you have spent the whole week in Tallinn with Skype team, talking about different aspects of our joint work. Did you have any expectations when you were coming here, or did you have any idea of how this would look like, and did it match what you found here?**
Yes. My expectation was to see a company that would look like a startup company in Silicon Valley. I was working in the United States, so I would expect that Skype is the same. And in fact it is pretty much to my expectation. So the working environment here is nice, everybody has enough personal space here and people here in Skype are nice to me.
**How is Skype currently doing in China? Is it popular and what do people think of it?**
Skype is very popular in China. It has this unique functionality of voice introduced to the market. Before Skype, other applications had this function but they were not so popular. When Skype entered this market and had the voice function, it had very-very good quality and people in China started to use it for voice. So it’s quite popular in China. When you think of voice, the first thing on your mind would be Skype.
**Besides Skype, I’m sure there are a lot of other things that people do online. So what are the other offerings that are similar to Skype that you mention here, that are more popular in China?**
Other popular IM tools in China are QQ, MSN Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger. QQ is the most popular one and I think because it was available during the early stage of the Internet. So at that time, people started to have Internet at work or at home and QQ was available at that time and they just started to use it. QQ is mostly used for text chatting. They started to provide this voice service, but I don’t think many of their users have got used to this functionality yet. Also MSN Messenger is popular because it comes with the operating system and a lot of people have it on their desktop or laptop by default. So there’s some usage there. And Yahoo! Messenger has some users because it’s a popular Internet portal.
**If I ask what would TOM like to see in the next versions of Skype or where would TOM like to see Skype going forward, what kind of features and other stuff are people expecting from Skype?**
China is a different market, I guess. The difference between China and the rest of the world is that Chinese users expect to see more entertainment features in their client. So I would like Skype in the next versions to have more entertainment features in it.
**Thanks for that, and good luck to TOM and Skype joint work in China.**