VietNamNet Bridge – Warned that Vietnamese would give a cool reception, Chinese Tencent and Baidu social networks still have got a large community of users in Vietnam.
Just several months after the debut, WeChat app of Tencent has had one million members in Vietnam, while Hao123 of Baidu has seen the pageviews increasing by 30 times.
On July 16, 2012, Baidu, the Chinese leading Internet firm officially introduced Baidu Tieba in Vietnamese version, instead of “Baidu tra da quan” (Baidu ice tea shop) as previously advertised. The Chinese social network uses the international domain name vn.tieba.com instead of “.vn” or “.com.vn”. It has also been providing inquiries services at http://zhidao.baidu.com.vn/ and searching network, the online utility services at http://vn.hao123.com.
Besides Baidu, Tencent, another Chinese big name has also taken the first step in its ambitious plan to expand markets globally and reach out to Vietnam. In April 2012, WeChat, the app for free chatting and messaging via Internet was officially provided in Vietnam together with noisy advertisement campaigns.
A report of AppAnnie Intelligence said that WeChat now ranks the 19th among the “hottest” software on Google Play and Apple Store in Vietnam. Meanwhile, the Vietnamese software of this kind, Zalo, ranks the 26th only on both the app stores.
The landing of Chinese Internet service firms have caught the special attention from Vietnamese media, which explained why this was one of the 20 most outstanding ICT events in Vietnam in 2012 as selected by the ICT Journalists’ Club.
Mentioning the event, Vietnamese ICT journalists gave a warning at a high level about the expansion of the two social networks. The market joining by Chinese firms has raised the doubt that if they bring the software pieces which can watch and steal information of users.
A lot of Vietnamese users complained that they got annoyed when the Chinese searching software Hao123 automatically entered their computers and it was very difficult for them to remove the software.
Le Hong Minh, General Director of VNG also wrote in his letter published on his blog that WeChat has got a high growth rate over the last 2-3 months, having got nearly one million users with two versions on iOS and Android.
As for Hao123, the product has made a breakthrough with 70,000 pageviews per day in April 2012 to 2 million in August 2012.
Meanwhile, VNG also once tried to provide the product two years ago, named Zinghome. However, it got only 500,000-700,000 pageviews a day.
Therefore, VNG thought that this was not an important product, and that maybe Vietnamese Internet users did not have the habit of using homepage like in China.
According to Minh, the number of WeChat’s members is “a very big figure,” and the high growth rate of Hao123 is “enigmatic.” He also said that VNG has heavily got shocked with the achievements of the Chinese networks, and that all the previous thoughts that this was not an important product or could not attract users are obviously wrong.
Since homepage is the first page that normal Internet users access any time when they use Internet, this has the power of orienting the Internet use habit of members.
Therefore, analysts have warned that if Hao123 continues growing and becoming the homepage of 50 percent of the computers in Vietnam (it is the homepage of 75 percent of computers in China), all the Vietnamese websites would lose the control over an important factor which can help drive the habit of Vietnamese Internet users.