Monday, May 25

Yahoo Vietnam is quickly losing ground to Vietnam's home-grown services

Saturday was Saigon's first Digital Marketing conference and what a room full of beautiful and smart people it was too. I spoke on Digital 101, which was a lot to cover in 1 hour but seemed to be well received. My presentation included children, humour, hot girls and a little violence, so it had the right ingredients for entertainment value.

An interesting take-out from the day was Yahoo confirming that their blogging product 360! is closing...but that actually it is not, it's just a simple upgrade path to 360+. Unfortunately, most of Vietnam believes 360! is dead completely and are already well on their way to moving onto new platforms (Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Blogger). It was quite a striking example of how in the digital space, information spreads fast, whether it is correct or not. I'm afraid for Yahoo, they've lost their "web" hooks into this market now and will have to rely on IM and Email as their trojan horse to other services.

Mentioned on Saturday was that Yahoo 360! has 1m users. If that is correct, then it is quite significantly smaller than I had imagined. Let's say there are 28m Vietnamese online, Yahoo! 360 has 3.6% of online users. That probably still makes it the leading blogging platform but I suspect not by far, Blogger and My Opera cannot be too far behind.

If you think the 'active' user base may be 30% of 1m, then the platform is already dead. You'll see a much more active base on Vietnamese social networks.

The rapid (albeit small numbers) move of Vietnamese to Facebook, Twitter as well as locally grown social networks like YoBanBe (VinaGame), is a more significant trend than Yahoo and many others are giving credit to. Facebook is a low-effort service which can easily surpass Yahoo 360's user numbers inside 12 months. Guestimates are that 100,000 Vietnamese are now on FB. If each invite 10 friends, FB will already be larger than 360!

Of course, none of this is new news, since the demise of Yahoo 360 as we know has been coming for a long-time. What stands out for me is how Yahoo is looking very Web 1.0 in these times, and that the industry boom in content, media and (hopefully) revenue is all to play for. Yahoo needs a much stronger digital strategy 'for Vietnam' (a locally relevant gameplan) if it wants to fight off the growth of Vietnamese sites like Zing, Kenh14, etc.

With so many plugged into it's IM and email products, it surely has the ingredients to beat anyone. For Yahoo is a market-leader, no doubt. It has the power, the brand and the tools to win. But it doesn't know that it's slowly losing the war. Those research questions from Yahoo need to quickly focus on what the Vietnamese digital influencers are doing, where they are spending their time "now" and what their perceptions are. I think it may give Yahoo a shock.


Anonymous Chris Tran said...

my 73k number for Facebook isn't a guess there buddy. :P

25 May, 2009 12:44  

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