Posts tagged: 360

How social networking in Vietnam is different from other countries in the region

By , November 20, 2011 4:12 pm

10 years ago the first thing Vietnamese learn about communicating through the Internet is chatting. There were some services targeting Vietnam market before Yahoo! Messenger came to dominate all communication channels.

Yahoo! Messenger’s domination in Vietnam opened up the way for Yahoo! Mail and Yahoo! 360. In recent years, the email market share is largely chipped by Gmail. Yahoo! Messenger, while the top IM client, faces competition from Skype. Hotmail, Live Messenger and Gtalk are not widely popular in the country.

A growing trend is, however, that people start to learn about social networking and Facebook. Many sign up for the Internet to, first thing first, communicating via social networks. The same is happening in other South East Asian countries.

The social network battle in Vietnam in 2011 boils down to the dual-horse race between the two leaders Zing Me and Facebook. While Twitter and Plurk gain traction in other countries in the region, micro-blogging in Vietnam has never taken off. Even technology-enthusiasts use Facebook for live reporting (which Twitter is logically most suitable for) and viralling current events.

Why? My attempt to answer the question:

  1. Vietnamese language comes with diacritics thus requires a lot more than 140 characters to express a full sentence
  2. Vietnamese users are more familiar with “Add Friend” relationship than “Follow” mechanism
  3. Most importantly, Twitter doesn’t satisfy the gamification demand crazed by Vietnamese users. Vietnamese teenagers go on Zing Me mostly to play webgames. Many also go on Facebook sheerly for games rather than for connecting. Foursquare has received lots of attention probably thanks to the rewards and Mayor competition.

The next question pops into my mind: if gamification is so important, why hasn’t Plurk known in Vietnam while it is very popular in Taiwan and the Philippines? Again, my attempt

  1. Plurk hasn’t been covered by local media which is crucial in the growth of services. Facebook received local media coverage.
  2. Many influencers don’t know what Plurk is. As for me, I deactivated my Plurk account after collecting many medals.

Thanks @salsabeela and @kounila for sharing the information on social networking in your countries.


Tumblr is growing rapidly in Vietnam.

Ngoc Hieu has an explanation on the adaption Twitter: Vietnamese users like colors and emotions, neither of which Twitter offers.

Yahoo! Blog 2011: too late an attempt for Vietnam

By , October 22, 2011 12:22 pm

From 2006 through mid 2009, the hottest web property in Vietnam was the blogging platform Yahoo! 360. The reason was Vietnamese were largely using Yahoo! Messenger as a default online communication tool, and 360 was directly integrated to Messenger.

Out of 4 million global users, 2.5 million were from Vietnam, and the latter were highly active.

Starting from 2008, the service has gone extremely unstable with many bugs left open. Despite being flawed and faulty, Vietnamese expressed the will that the product should be spun off and sold to a Vietnamese operator. Nevertheless, Yahoo! decided to close down the service, leaving Vietnamese netizens disarray, disappointed, discontent.

The localized Yahoo! 360plus from Hong Kong was a big flop.

Where have they gone?

  • The majority find social networks sticky. They settled down on Zing Me (now 8 million users) and Facebook (now 2 million). Apparently the numbers include the next generation of users
  • Geeks use self-hosted WordPress
  • Non-geeks who take writing seriously setup WordPress and Blogger accounts
  • Around 2 million on YuMe, a 360 clone

Yahoo! MeMe, a microblogging tool received almost no attention.

yahoo! blog logo

Yahoo! just launched its new blogging platform, Yahoo! Blog. I have the impression it was created with Korea market in mind. The product is neatly done with improved and clean design.

All it receives from Vietnamese netizens are smirks and rejection. Too late for Yahoo!. The users were left with despair and they now turn their back on the company’s attempts. Hope it’ll growth in Korea and Hong Kong.

Again, even if Yahoo! didn’t close down the faulty 360, could it have successfully monetized the community in the first place? My guess is no. Yahoo! never tried doing so.

Yahoo! 360 officially dead & the impact

By , May 29, 2009 11:58 am

Yahoo! 360 is officially announced to be closed on 13 July 2009.

The impact this movement has:


4 million users worldwide and 2 million Vietnamese users lose what they call “home-base”.

Vietnamese bloggers had long equate “blog = Yahoo! 360“. The closure will change that perception.

Where are they moving to

I have noted down my prediction on Kevin’s blog here.

I have personally moved most of my social graph to Facebook.



The global forces: Facebook is climbing Alexa Vietnam rapidly.

Local competitors: good news?


There are two ecosystems in Vietnam on Yahoo! 360: 360themes and LinkHay feed. They will be heavily affected.

How about you? What impact will the closure have on you?

It's not only about the players; it's also about the industry and the market

By , April 20, 2009 10:33 am

Many discussions rose once again when Yahoo! 360 is confirmed to be closed in near future. The question most frequently asked is: who will be the winner? It’s apparent that some of us have been aggressive in finding nailing down the “winner” of the race after the fall of the regional giant.

Discussions are shot, entries are flared and debates are burst.

But can we take one step back and see if we are so scripted with scenarios for competitions in the market?

Have we asked the question how the market will grow and how we will grow with the market?

Product/Portfolio growth = Market share x Market growth

Where is the internet market in Vietnam? It is arguable that the industry is only in its first steps. There are great potentials in the form of markets that have not been reached and markets that have not been created.

It’s not only about gaining market share, it’s also about growing the market so you can grow along.

What will fuel market growth? The answer is efforts from every player in the industry. Your competitors also help the market grow.

@tanng and @duongminhviet have occasionally applaud FPT’s movements to enter deeper into the market. In my perspective, this is not only an act of diplomacy, but also out of their wisdom that competition shakes up and levels up the industry as a whole. As long as passion is there, opportunities are there.

Good luck


Appendix: market growth will be fueled by the following sources:

  1. Urban adults who have not used internet services. They have income, are skeptical, and definitely not early adopters.
  2. Users from provinces who have not used internet services. Their income varies, they range from major adopters to laggards.
  3. Young people growing up. They have sponsorship, are curious, smart, and would make innovators and early adopters.

Is Yahoo! building the Hall of Yahoolla?

By , April 6, 2009 11:39 am

Yahoo! is concentrating on their Open Strategy; the focus is good, if they don’t abandon the particles that form a platform.

My metaphor: the Hall of Valhalla and the billboards

Imagine you’re a college student. You’re going to the library. On your way, a billboard is hung just around the corner before you reach the library.You stop for a few seconds to skim around the messages. The billboard is typically normal as in every school and at first it looks somewhat messy; however it is messy in its own order and as you figure through, you’ll know what you need.

Basically there are 2 things:

  • It is convenient: on people’s way of achieving something (going to the library)
  • It has its own order

There are various billboards like that across the campus. All good ones have the 2 characteristics above.

Now, the authority decides to build a hall where all the billboard is going to reside. The hall is separated from other buildings (library, computer labs, class rooms, sport grounds, common rooms…) for it to be easily managed.

How often will you drop by the hall of billboards? To what extent will the hall add values to your benefits? To what extent will the hall add values to the posters?

The hall will desert. People will scarcely visit. The values will drop.

Now, let’s go back to Yahoo!’s case.

Hall of Valhalla

Yahoo!’s Hall of Valhalla Yahoolla

Users are billboard viewers. Developers are billboard posters.

Yahoo! 360 which will be closed was a billboard of contents. Yahoo! Mash which had been closed was a billboard of relationships. Yahoo!’s Open Platform in which Yahoo! Profile centers is the Hall!

Yahoo! Open Strategy Platform

Image from Neal Sample & Cody Simms’ presentation

Without particles, how can an open but blank platform attract users and developers? How will Y!OSP add values to users?

Now, extending the boundary a bit further to other services that Y!OSP supports: Twitter, Tumblr, slideshare, StumbleUpon…

Yahoo! is leveraging its greatest user base: Yahoo! Mail. The prospect is that Yahoo! Mail users can manage different services from their Inbox! Additionally, users have their Yahoo! Profiles.

However, how willing are users going to stay in one place to get updated of all these services? If they do, they miss out the most, name it interaction or content, from going directly to the other services.

The Hall that Yahoo! is building will be a grand, titanic, ordered silo. The biggest question is: what will users find in there?

Twitter – from Cloning to Localizing for Vietnam Market: A Visual Step-by-step Guide

By , February 14, 2009 1:35 am

The Wisdom Yahoo! has been equipping Vietnamese users with

By , February 1, 2009 4:31 pm


“Yahoo!” almost equals “Internet” in Vietnam.

Yahoo! Messenger, Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! 360 and Flickr are the four products that lead the market. While Yahoo!’s email market share has slowly been sucked up by Google, all four of them are still dominating. We also talk about Yahoo! 360 Plus and Yahoo! Profile here and there but these 2 shall be covered later.

What’s good about it? The good thing is that the majority of Vietnamese Internet users share the same type of knowledge offered by Yahoo! products.

…which I call Foundation Wisdom.

These might be very obvious and basic. However, I want to list them in a clear manner to reuse them as premise for further brainstorms and discussions.

Foundation Wisdom

1. Free

Just don’t underestimate this point. My director in his fifties was amazed by the fact that there are so many good software for free (he was mentioning Facebook) and my father hadn’t believed in a free thing before I explained how new advertising worked to him.

Now that the younger users (GenY) are used to having things for free.

2. Tolerance to ads

Wow a good thing. They don’t mind seeing ads on their Yahoo! 360 pages or Yahoo! Messenger, so won’t moan about advertisements flying on new sites.

3. Simplicity in achieving a goal

Product makers shouldn’t confuse simplicity in achieving a goal with simplicity in design. We are familiar with praising Google and Apple’s simplicity in design, but what I’m discussing is how simple it is for users to achieve a goal when using your service, especially for the first time.

What is the goal with Yahoo! 360? Write blog entries, read updates, comment, write quick comments. And that’s all. 360 makes it simple for them by offering simple features.

4. Customization

Users love design customization offered in Yahoo! 360 and wishes to see that in any other site.

5. Concepts

Guest book

Users are used to using guest book (or quick comment in 360) as the communication channel.

Confusion: blog and social network

I bet many users are confused between a blogging platform and a social network if they ever care.

Confusion: add friend, follow and subscribe

Many users wouldn’t bother distinguishing “add friend”, “follow” or “subscribe”. 360 offers “add friend” and “subscribe”. 360plus offers “follow” and “subscribe”.


Users are accustomed to writing testimonials for one another. While the initial intention of testimonial is to recommend good attributes of the recommended, many have used this feature to simply express their fondness toward one another.

But nevertheless, they’re familiar with this concept anyway.


Status has always been offered by Yahoo! Messenger. But it takes off with Yahoo! 360 blast. Users don’t only update their status on the blast but utilize it for many short contents: quotes, life philosophy, messages…

It’s a good thing that creativity is encouraged.


Yahoo! 360 allows media embed and it is a great thing that this rather advanced feature has become known by users.

6. Language

Users are used to a set of languages in Yahoo! products.

i.e. “Quick comment”, not “Wall” or “Scrapbook”. “Testimonial”, not “Recommendation”.

7. Contents

Personal and emotional

Many Vietnamese users use 360 for personal purpose and chiefly write about their emotions and relationships.

Page view

Many write for page views and use page views as the only metric to measure success of contents.

Celebrity gossips

Some of the hottest blogs in Vietnamese attribute to hot news that center celebrity gossips, sex-related topics.

Briefly, how to take advantage of this

1. User education doesn’t have to start from scratch

Make use of their current knowledge. Build your education on that.

You can even set an ego gift for your customers. Make them feel like after using your service, their level of technological insights has been improved. This, firstly, makes them feel good about themselves. Next, imagine your users proudly educate others about a new service and become a guru in their friends’ eyes. This further boosts their satisfaction.

2. Make it simple for users to achieve their goal

Good, no need to throw advanced features to users in the first launch. What needs done is the core feature(s) that bring(s) most values to users.

Rule of thumb: users’ patience toward complexity proportionates to the value of the goal to them.

3. Colorful design and profile layout customization

Colorful design is a must. And being colorful is not mutual exclusive to simplicity.

While customization is not relevant to some types of services such as social news, it’s recommended to provide the ability to customize one’s profile.

4. Language

Exploit the set of language from legacy Yahoo! products.

5. Concepts

Exploit the set of concepts from legacy Yahoo! products. If you have to introduce new concepts, find way to introduce it with the language users are familiar with.

6. Make it personal and emotional

7. Don’t (have to) host contents, but be a platform to spread contents

Good is embed exists. Better is users are familiar with it.

What it means here is that you don’t have to host original contents, but need to build platforms that media can be embedded in and focus on how to allow such contents to be spread on by your service.

Social Media Timeline

By , December 7, 2008 1:17 am

Social Media timeline

Danah M. Boyd
& Nicole B. Ellison, Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship

Google services officially in Vietnam, eventually. Why and how?

By , August 22, 2008 3:12 pm

“Within the next 5 years, Google Vietnam will have been Google Indochina.”

Read the article here: Google’s Advisor for Vietnam

That article was all the way back to early 2007.

We are now in August 2008 when we receive this big news: Google has officially set their foot in Vietnam.

Google Vietnam homepage

Where is Google currently?

Currently, Google has 3 web properties standing in top positions in Vietnam market:

  1. at #2, after
  2. at #7, after 4 local news portal
  3. at #10, after another 2 news site. Read more: Vietnamese bloggers go to YouTube chiefly looking for embed code

Source: Alexa August 2008

Google in Vietnam on Alexa

Gmail is second to Yahoo! Mail

Many Vietnamese also love spending time on Wikimapia.

A predictable and inevitable move…

No need to mention the localized version of the search portal, Google’s presence in Vietnam could be predicted since their AdSense for Vietnamese browsers has recently displayed contents in Vietnamese, and frequently with Gmail and Orkut.

Vietnamese Group on Orkut

An Orkut screenshot, click on the image to view the original version.

The 20-million-internet-user market is rich and potential to Google as well.

…getting over certain issues

It’s important to mention some issues with Vietnam market for Google

  1. Volume of frauds in AdSense from Vietnam
  2. Buyer habit
  3. Revenues the business expect to gain from selling advertisements to Google services
  4. e-Commerce law

(2) is changing dramatically and is driving (3).

We’ve seen signals to improvements to (4)

So I guess it is high time Google was here in this rapidly developing country.

News is just news, no news is bad news.
Or is it no news is good news?

What do you think when you know the news?

I’ve observed various reactions from people in the industry.

1. “Hitting the market first” is getting tighter it’s hard to breath.

Many service providers have aimed to push their products to the market before Google comes to Vietnam.

Now they do!

Any plan to pre-ampt Google would be extremely hard.

2. The non-technical users are not as excited as the technical communities

While most agree that Google search is powerful, many non-technical are happy with Yahoo! services including Messenger, Mail, 360, 360plus and other local service providers.

Another thing to look at is connection speed. Vietnamese users suffer from bottle-neck effect to international websites. However, even with that, Google search result load speed is surprisingly amazing with their distributed network.

So all in all, non-technical users have very few reason to celebrate

3. Technical communities are jumping up and down in joy now

Because they have established the habit of relying on many Google services.

Well I have two things to say

Firstly, I don’t want to be forced to use the localized version of Google without an option to revert to the international version. I have tested the result from Google international search and Google Vietnam search and they’re much different. I’d prefer the international version, thanks. And I appreciate that Google provides the URL for the international version.

Secondly, I have to ask this: does Google really love Vietnam?

No I’m not kidding. You may want to know that Coca-cola doesn’t invest too much on marketing and market penetration to compete with Pepsi in Vietnam. They’re here to make locals aware of their presence and not to let Pepsi equate cola to “Pepsi”. You may want to know that Honda introduced the Click and the Airblade with heavy subsidy in Vietnam not to head on directly with Yamaha’s Nouvo series, but not to let Yamaha dominates the whole market. This is important to keep in mind because in Vietnam, “the web” is equal to “Yahoo!” for many beginning users.

We want to see how strongly Google will push the Vietnam market…

Bad examples of domain selection: shop360, thugian360 & yeah1

By , August 19, 2008 11:10 pm,, are apologies to domain selection.

Why? Many Vietnamese computers have UniKey installed to type Vietnamese with accents. If the users prefer VNI method, when they type the domains in the address bar:

  • shop360 becomes shôp
  • thugian360 becomes thugiân
  • yeah1 becomes yeah1

yeah1 has a cool notation: it looks like <strong>yeah!</strong>. But with the mistake above, efforts to create a brand are wasted.

Why did Yahoo! 360 make it? Because the number stands alone:

Another issue is with hi5, but since the service is not originally from Vietnam, they’re not to blame.

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