Mobile network operators, mobile phone manufacturers and independent mobile phone programmers all have jumped into the mobile app market, which is believed to become very lucrative thanks to the sharp increases in the number of smart phones in Vietnam.
Experts believe that it is now the right time for investors to jump into the mobile app market, which is now in the early stage of development. Meanwhile, foreign mobile phone manufacturers including Nokia, Samsung and RIM have announced that they are seeking the partners to build app stores for the Vietnamese clients.
The market door opened
Nielsen Vietnam, a market survey firm, has reported that the number of mobile Internet users in Vietnam has been increasing rapidly.
At present, only two in every five mobile phone users in Vietnam (or 41 percent) access Internet with their mobile phones, which is the lowest proportion in South East Asia. However, Vietnam is considered the most potential mobile Internet market in the region with ¾ of consumers (75 percent) intending to use mobile Internet in the next 12 months.
Currently, 21 percent of users own the phones that allow to access the Internet, while 46 percent of people plan to buy smart phones in the next year.
Darin Williams, General Director of Nielsen Vietnam, said that the people who love high-technology products in Vietnam now also have the latest models of smart phones, while many people plan to buy smart phones in the near future. These are the basic factors which can help step up the mobile apps in Vietnam.
Tran Hong Phuc, Director of TMA Mobile Solutions, said that TMA was established as a software outsourcing company, but it has joined the field of mobile apps for the last seven years, when they write mobile apps to the orders of foreign partners. TMA has recently decided to “exploit” the domestic market.
Explaining this, Phuc said that the number of mobile phone users in Vietnam has been increasing very rapidly, especially in the smart phone market segment. Besides, 3G services have become more popular in the last two years. These are the two most important factors which can step up the development of mobile apps.
“I believe that the market has become big enough and I have decided to make investment in the field,” he said.
The race begins
Mstore, the app store of Viettel, a mobile network operator, with more than 900 apps, is considered the “pioneering service” in the market. MobiFone has marketed Mspace app store. The lowest service fee of Mobile is 3000 dong, the same with Viettel’s.
Meanwhile, FPT is considered the first mobile phone manufacturer joining the market when it marketed F-Store – utilized for FPT F99 series – in May 2010.
Nguyen Minh Luan, a senior executive of FMA, the unit in charge of developing F-Store, said F-store now has some 150 apps, including 140 games apps. FMA hopes it can build up 1000 apps on Android operation system by the end of the year.
In May 2011, An Binh Telecom, the owner of Q-Mobile brand, joined hands with VTC Mobile Service to build up Q-Store to be utilized for Q-Mobile brand smart phones.
Meanwhile, CMC Distribution, the owner of BlueFone brand, has also expressed its ambitious plan to obtain a piece of the market cake, as it has “inherited” the Kiosk Store, which has the investment value of two million dollars, from CMC.
The race has also attracted a lot of foreign technology groups, including Nokia, Samsung or RIM. Nokia has said Vietnam is among the countries which have the highest number of accesses to its Ovi Store.
In mid 2010, Samsung joined hands with domestic software programmers to develop the app store for Bada operation system. Most recently, RIM, the manufacturer of BlackBerry, has decided to cooperate with TMA Mobile Solutions to develop apps for BlackBerry in Vietnam.
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