OTT app developers look for new platforms

August 24, 2016 | 09:33 am GMT+7

The OTT (over the top) market in which apps for messaging free of charge on the internet has cooled down after a hot period.


One of the main sources of revenue that foreign OTT service providers put high hopes on was the sale of cartoon stickers to send messages and products in free games, integrated in the apps.

However, the source of income turned out to be small in Vietnam because Vietnamese users did not have the habit of making payments online. This explained why Kakao Talk and Line, two representatives from South Korea, closed after a short time of operation in Vietnam. Later, Viber and WeChat also left Vietnam quietly.

The foreign spaces left by foreign app developers were filled up by Vietnamese firms. In April 2014, BKAV, known as the nation’s leading internet security firm, joined the market with BTalk. A short time later, three Vietnamese largest mobile network operators Viettel, VinaPhone and MobiFone also jumped into the market with Mocha, VietTalk and WiTalk.

According to VNG, by the end of April 2016, Zalo had 50 registered users, high enough to leave Facebook Messenger behind with 38 million users in Vietnam.

However, mobile network operators do not intend to compete with Zalo and Facebook Messenger. Analysts said the advantages mobile network operators enjoy are not the factors which determine success.

Mobile network operators develop OTT apps to provide apps as additional services in the markets where they invest. 

Viettel’s Mocha, for example, which just made its debut not a long time ago, has attracted 3.6 million users. The app has been launched in four foreign markets, and left a special impression there with original features.

Meanwhile, MobiFone’s WiTalk focuses on the feature of allowing users to use the app when they go abroad and keep contact with other subscribers.

Some sources said that Zalo, a Vietnamese OTT app, plans to make money from the e-commerce trading floor model. 

The sources said that Official Account has been available in Zalo and it is free of charge for businesses. This is described as a preparatory step to assist enterprises to do business. 

Official Account allows brands, celebrities, businesses and commercial banks to integrate business assistance apps on Zalo. 

Analysts predicted that Vietnam’s Zalo is likely to apply the strategies which once helped WeChat succeed in e-commerce. 

One of them is Groundswell of KOL (key opinion leaders). This is a growing trend in the society, where people use technology to obtain things they want from other people instead of institutions or enterprises.