Why retail for feature phones is more profitable than for smart phones

By , January 31, 2012 5:38 pm
  1. Smart phone vendors including Samsung, Sony, HTC, Motorola, LG, Dell, Asus, Acer, ZTE, Huawei compete on price, desperately trying to win market share from Apple. They leave the feature phone to the sole Nokia (plus some Asian brands)
  2. A smart phone is of high(er) value => buyers have the incentive to compare prices before buying.  I am assuming an elastic demand market, and one in which buyers are less restricted to carriers.
  3. Smart phones are attracting attention and coverage of mass and social media => buyers are better informed of prices. For example, I visit at least 5 websites to compare prices and asked numerous times on Facebook before buying my Samsung Galaxy Note.
  4. It’s not that feature phone buyers lack the money for smart phones, but they simply do not want the complexity of smart phones. This group is willing to pay $25-50 more for convenience (next-door shop) and guarantee (retail brand). Note that big retail brands like TheGioiDiDong.com sells at premium compared to other chains.
  5. In fact, the feature phone buyers don’t even know or care that they are paying a premium. The common behavior is for a buyer to go to a shop and ask "I want a nice simple phone with camera and music player". The salesperson then guess the budget from the appearance of the buyer and start recommending ones that are most inline with with the retail’s inventory.

Photo: Nokia 6230i, my first feature phone

Facebook to file for IPO [updated continously]

By , January 27, 2012 7:18 pm

According to WSJ and Mashable, Facebook is raising $10 billion at valuation $100 billion. This is the largest Technology IPO in history.

With 2.5 billion shares outstanding, they stock may open around $40 per share.


This valuation would yield

P/S ~ 25

P/E ~ 67

Is $40 lucrative. One word: buy them all!

My personal forecast is that on the first trading day, the price will shoot to at least twice the opening price.

Compared to recent Groupon’s IPO, Facebook provides more liquidity: 10% (vs. 5%) ~ $10 billion ~ 250 million shares. Facebook doesn’t need the trick of limiting supply like Groupon did.

Why? Groupon has been facing fierce competition from Living Social, and the business model is clouded with concerns on sustainability. Facebook, on the other hand, dominates social network and even web skeleton. Facebook’s barrier to entry include products, communities, vision and management.

There is no question to short-term speculation on Facebook IPO.

My question is: what is Facebook doing with $10 billion it is raising. Apparently, liquidity for founders and investors is never the focus of Mark.


Note on speculation:

Whether you think Facebook is overpriced is irrelevant because even if it really is it will get even MORE overpriced.

Stating the stock is overpriced is NOT equivalent to a SELL recommendation because the stock might be MORE overpriced tomorrow.

In case no opportunity cost, whether a stock is overpriced is irrelevant as soon as you can find a buyer who is willing to buy higher than the price you paid for.

The failed projects I truly feel saddened about: Mixx, Twine, u.nu, Viewzi, gocnhin

By , January 24, 2012 5:40 pm


It was a Digg alternative, only with better design and user experience. It also ahead of Digg in offering channels.

Mixx was subsequently acquired by UberMedia and disappeared.


An alternative to Squidoo with a better design and user experience. Nevertheless, these are not unique selling points as Squidoo comes back and clone the design of Twine.


One of the two shortest URL shorteners (the other one being z.pe which had less attractive design). u.nu claimed it failed because the site couldn’t control the contents; many used the system and shorten malicious and abusive contents. Nevertheless, bit.ly won Twitter endorsement.


A visual search engine that doesn’t run on Google. It couldn’t build up the data required for a search engine. Of course it is extremely hard to build the data close to that of Google. Bing costs Microsoft an arm and a leg. Plus, Bing goes vertical on product search. If not many people want visual aid in search, the unique selling point doesn’t pay off.


A Vietnamese content aggregator basing on information filtering and categorization. While online news is still number one Internet activity in Vietnam, maybe readers are not ready for, or even feel the need of, an aggregator that advanced.

The domain now points to LinkHay.com, a more successful product founded by the same team.

Vietnam e-Commerce & e-Payment 2012 Outlook. Thương mại điện tử & thanh toán trực tuyến Việt 2012

By , January 22, 2012 6:09 am

Below is the Vietnamese version of my presentation at Open Consultant offline December 2011 on Vietnam e-Commerce Outlook in 2012.

Click here to read my English version. Please note that the English version is more updated.

Herding the meme crowd

By , January 21, 2012 8:14 pm

Blogging, micro-blogging, social news and top social networks (Facebook & Google+) have one prominent feature: followship. Followship is the key to extend our influence and authority on the Internet, namely, the more followers you have, the more widespread your information gets.

The rising power of memes has a different perspective. On the most notorious [I’m trollin’, problemo?] meme-sharing site 9gag.com and its Vietnamese clone cab.vn, follow is not a celebrated feature. As far as my best guess goes, the weight of followship in the trending algorithm is neglectable. What determines the hotness is content that is good and more importantly, framed to match the community’s culture and expectation.

In this case, followship is only mental. Influence not tied to one specific piece of content is only extended to those who remember the poster’s ID. I would ex;pect this mental capability and attention to be limited in quantity.

So, instead of spending time and efforts to build followship on these sites, one can simply post one sensational story and rally the crowd to her own scheme. Template? Nescafé!

At least that’s the mechanical side. @goldscors makes a compelling statement: you can actually mobilize the attentive group (who appreciate your influence) into extending the influence. I would imagine the case as multi-tiered viral: get the elite to spark discussions favorable to you then fuel group-thinking among the rest. Of course, this is of significantly less power than followship and sharing (retweet in Twitter, reblog in Tumblr, submit in Digg).

Even this picture of mine is a meme attempt. Implying we regress is, for all practical purpose, an act of trolling.

iPad 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

By , January 18, 2012 12:25 am

ipad 2 apple samsung galaxy tab 10.1 flash adobe

iPad 2 Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Winner
Read & Edit Microsoft Office 2010 files by default No


Processor 1GHz 1GHz Draw
Memory 512Mb 1Gb Tab
Screen size 9.7″ 10.1″ Tab
Resolution 1024×768
Cameras Front 0.3mp
Rear 0.7mp, no flash
Front 2mp
Rear 3mp, LED flash, autofocus, geotagging
Speaker Mono Stereo Tab
Weight 607g 565g Tab
Icon per screen 25 35 Tab
Operating system iOS 4.3.3
Apps work better in higher resolution
Upgradable to iOS 5
Android Honeycomb 3.1
with TouchWiz UX
Upgradable to Honeycomb 3.2
Battery 7 hours Netflix streaming 5 hours Netflix streaming Pad
Apps More apps Cheaper apps Tab
Adobe Flash No Yes Tab
Touch screen Smoother Smooth Pad
Bluetooth 2.1 3.0 Tab
Case Aluminum Rubber back Pad
hnammobile.com 14m1 12m59 Tab
atmobile.vn 14m1 12m
thegioididong.com 15m599 13m999


As for me personally one single feature – compatibility with Microsoft Office 2010 by default – dwarves all other aspects. If I didn’t have a Samsung Galaxy Note I would definitely go for Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1!





Scams plaguing, from MSN messenger to Facebook

By , January 10, 2012 7:39 pm

Messages in the format "every time someone sends the message, an [organization] will donate [amount] cents to [the cause]", accompanied by sympathetic (and disturbing) pictures, are almost always a scam.


  1. You won’t find the information on the official communication channel of the organizations (UNICEF, WWF, NGOs…)
  2. The chain mail / chain messages have been a disease on email and MSN messenger. Technically, it’s impossible for the creator of the content to track how many email/message have been sent.
  3. It is possible to track on Facebook, but if the campaign were real the owner would have used more effective methods e.g. ad
  4. You won’t find the story on credible sources when you search

Why would anyone do that?

  1. On websites: to attract pageviews
  2. On Facebook: to attract likes
  3. Or just for other malicious purposes

Please, my friends, be mindful what you share. Be wise not to annoy your friends with these hoaxes.


The cancer baby hoax and demystifying the hoax

The Baskin Robbins stores in Vietnam

By , January 3, 2012 7:22 pm

I’ve seen Baskin Robbins back to Ho Chi Minh city in at least 3 locations: NTMK, Nguyen Trai, and Truong Dinh – Pham Hong Thai corner and I couldn’t refrain my excitement.

I just had Baskin Robbins today with some friends and, unfortunately, we had a few issues:

  1. Under-frozen ice-cream. The scoops melted only after 2 minutes. From my memory back in 1994, the ice-cream was harder, stickier and took much longer to melt. The ice-cream I had in other countries also tasted better than the ones I was just having.
  2. The flavor labels were not tagged on the ice-cream containers. We had to blind-pick.
  3. Undertrained staff. They couldn’t tell and consult on the flavors.
  4. Store model. Being the current most expensive ice-cream (VND 45,000 per 2.5 oz scoop), the store can be considered fine-dining dessert to the living standard of Vietnam. However, stores are being setup as short-serving takeaway. From my stay in the store in the corner of Truong Dinh and Pham Hong Thai, I observed many tourists who dropped by, recognizing the brand. This customer segment should be comfortable with high-turnover, takeaway model. I’m not sure it works for locals who go to fast food chains, like KFC, to stay and chat.
  5. Azi added: No drinking water (after a very sweet treat), no WC


I also had a personal observation:

  • Smallest scoop: 45,000 for 2.5oz, or 18,000 per oz
  • Value scoop: 4oz, also 18,000 per oz

Unless very full to want a single scoop, I would almost always select the smallest scoop to mix multiple flavors.

  • 3 non-combo scoop: 120,000 for 3 flavors
  • 3-flavor sundae: 110,000 for 3 flavors. The sundae comes with topping and whipped cream.

I would always pick the sundae if I want 3 flavors for it is cheaper (though smaller in size per scoop).

But I’m pretty sure usual diners wouldn’t do the mental calculation like my first example.


Häagen-Dazs is opening and it will be even more expensive than Baskin Robbins. I’m holding my breath.

Evolution of Content-Centric Networks

By , January 2, 2012 7:54 am

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