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:
- Vietnamese language comes with diacritics thus requires a lot more than 140 characters to express a full sentence
- Vietnamese users are more familiar with “Add Friend” relationship than “Follow” mechanism
- 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
- Plurk hasn’t been covered by local media which is crucial in the growth of services. Facebook received local media coverage.
- 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.
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! 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.
CafeF1 reports Baidu has launched 2 sites in Vietnamese language:
The portal vn.hao123.com and Q&A service zhidao.baidu.com.vn
This is part of the localization of Baidu’s existing services to other international markets. Baidu also recruits PM in Vietnam.
I like the portal.
- It’s neat
- It lists the sites that I benefit from knowing
- Lots of white spaces, few images
- Large and pleasant font (Tahoma?). BTW I hate Times & Arial
- In terms of information, I prefer it to vn.yahoo.com and alltop.com (sorry Guy)
- In terms of customization it is nowhere near netvibes.com and iGoogle.com though
- The concern is if I use VNI Vietnamese typing method, the URL messes up
So in short, nice attempt.
The Q&A service will have to compete with Yahoo! Answers. Also, savy.vn is preparing to launch.
The challenge Baidu has in Vietnam is probably public relations.
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?