Smartphones spark mobile Internet boom in Vietnam

Staff writer
telecomasia.net
Rapid adoption of smartphones is driving a mobile Internet boom in Vietnam, only 18 months since the country’s operators switched on their first 3G networks.
 
According to Wireless Intelligence, 3G connections in Vietnam surpassed 20 million in the second quarter of 2011, representing around 18% of the total base. This has been achieved despite carriers operating in a price-sensitive market where the vast majority of subscribers (over 85%) are prepaid.
 
There are currently four 3G licensees in the country: Mobifone, Vinaphone, Viettel and a consortium comprising CDMA player EVN Telecom (E-Mobile) and Vietnamobile. Vinaphone, a subsidiary of state-owned incumbent VNPT, was the first to launch a commercial 3G service in October 2009, initially in key metro areas such as Hanoi. Mobifone launched 3G services two months later (December 2009), followed by Viettel in March 2010 and Vietnamobile/EVN Telecom in June 2010.
 
According to recent data released by Vinaphone, smartphone users now account for 29% of the country's total customer base – a proportion comparable to (or better than) most developed mobile markets. Growth in smartphones over the last year is attributed to the rise of Android-based models, which accounted for 26% of the country's smartphones in April 2011, up from just 2% a year previously.
 
Apple’s iPhone has also grown its share over the same period, rising from 21% to 30%. Symbian-based devices still account for the largest portion of Vietnamese smartphones (39%) but have suffered an alarming decline in market share over the last year, falling from a high of 75% in March 2010. Other smartphone platforms make up the remaining 5%, and include RIM (2%) and Windows Mobile (1%). Samsung was named as the leading Android vendor in Vietnam with a 28% share, followed by HTC (22%), Sony Ericsson (11%) and LG (10%), the report said.

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