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Vietnam’s Mobile App Sector: Slow But Steady

The mobile app industry in Vietnam may be lagging behind compared to the rest of the world, but it’s certainly catching up and may even be at par with the current leading applications in the sector today.

Quality-wise, Vietnamese applications are not inferior. In fact, apps like Fuzel was hailed as one of the Best New Apps out of 40 countries which were included in a selection in November 2013. Developed by a Vietnamese studio named Not A Basement, the app garnered 2 million reported downloads, so far and excluding those not tallied. It was also rated 5 Stars while users left nothing but praises about the app. The home-grown group is composed of young engineers who also own another popular app Manga Rock 2.

While the figure may be relatively low as against world-famous apps like Instagram and Camera 360, Vietnamese applications in general have received commendations for mobile games like VNG, Naisorp Colorbox, Bluesea, TeaMobi and Pine Entertainment which are known not only locally but in international app stores as well.

The problem may lie in marketing, with only a small number of users knowing about the product. Another problem is interaction between the two parties. For example, Ping Taxi is a fairly famous application which gives commuters the convenience of looking and booking for a taxi nearest their current location. While the app is available in globally big app stores such as Apple Store, Google Play and Windows phone and has received a growing number of downloads, taxi drivers themselves do not use the app, probably because they do not have smart phones personally or haven’t been issued one by their company. That leaves the app useless, with clients still having to make a manual call to the taxi firm and be connected through switchboard operators like before.

Whiteboard is another locally developed app by Greengar in HCM City which allows users to write, draw and communicate on the screens of mobile devices by a simple touch. This application supposedly enables teachers in classes to send messages to all their students at one time. But this requires all such teachers and students to have mobile devices and with the application installed into their smart phone, and this is not the reality. Some, if not many, people are still using old, regular cellphones because they cannot afford to buy high-technology phones.

While these are the current limitations, they are definitely not permanent. The mobile app sector of Vietnam is one that is developing, albeit slowly, but steadily. Pic Chat is one evidence, another domestically-developed app based in Hanoi and created by Cinnamon. It has earned $1.5 million worth of investments from abroad countries Japan and Singapore. Based on figures, 74 percent of the total profit of Vietnam came from the sale of apps in the first quarter of 2013 alone. By 2016, it is predicted that this would balloon to $46 billion. With these numbers, we can fairly say that Vietnam’s mobile app industry has a bright future ahead.


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