Smartphone market: Vietnamese brands struggle to emerge

August 21, 2017 | 09:46 am GMT+7

The Vietnamese mobile phone market in recent days has heated up with the appearance of two 4G/LTE models – Bphone 2 of BKAV and Vivas Lotus S3 LTE of VNPT Technology.

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Though the two models target two different groups of customers, they are both made in Vietnam by Vietnamese engineers who aim to create a smartphone manufacturing industry. While BPhone 2 is the second generation of BPhone, Vivas Lotus S3 LTE s the fifth model of VNPT Technology’s product line.

Besides BPhone and Vivas, Vietnamese Mobiistar and Masstel phones are also being offered. Asanzo, a TV manufacturer specializing in making low-cost CRT screen products, plans to join the smartphone market as well.
Some months ago, at an event in HCMC, Ngo Nguyen Kha, CEO of Mobiistar, showed off his pair of Biti shoes to prove that he is a fan of Vietnamese goods.

“If there is another Vietnamese smartphone brand to compete with Mobiistar, this will be good news,” Kha told the press. “It is like when you go alone at night and you feel glad you have companions.”

The manufacturer has launched Prime X1 and Prime X 2017, both of which have 5.5 inch HD screen, RAM 3GB and 2GB, priced at VND3.69 million and VND3.46 million.

Mobiistar started early in 2009 but other rivals left the racetrack because they could not bear the pressure. Q-mobile has been quiet since 2016, while HKPhone has stopped mobile phone sales and invested in a hair salon chain.

Among Vietnamese brands, BPhone is the only product competing in the high-end market, while others focus on the low-cost segment.

A report from GfK showed that in May 2017, Mobiistar ranked fourth in the market in the number of products sold (2.96 percent) and eighth in revenue (0.86 percent).

Analysts say that the low-cost and mid-end market segments should be the major ‘battlefield’ for Vietnamese manufacturers. The high-end market segment is dominated by giants such as Samsung and Apple.

Nguyen Trung Kien from VNPT Technology said Vietnamese mobile phone manufacturers need to take steps to create customer confidence which cannot be obtained overnight. High-end phones are more of a risk.

Following BKAV, Viettel, a telco, aims to make luxury smartphone.  Sources said Viettel plans to develop a ‘made-in-Vietnam’ smartphone, targeting the high-end market with a selling price of over $1,000. It may be called Viettel Luxury Phone – Smartphone 4G.