Home markets are the biggest markets for Chinese, South Korea, Japanese and Amercian mobile phone manufacturers, but this has not occurred in Vietnam.
Ngo Nguyen Kha, CEO of Mobiistar, once complained that Mobiistar was ‘lonely’ in the home market, because it was the only Vietnamese brand and had to compete with many foreign brands.
He then said that if other Vietnamese brands turned up together with and competed with foreign brands, it would be good news.
Later, others appeared. BKAV Corporation from the famous ‘techman’ Nguyen Tu Quang marketed BPhone, a high-end smartphone product, in 2015-2017. Asanzo, a ‘rising star’ in the electronics sector after succeeding in the rural market, jumped into the smartphone market, hoping to make money from the low-cost (less than VND3 million) market segment.
However, Vietnamese smartphone brands have not been welcomed by Vietnamese customers. BKAV has launched three generations of Bphone, but high income earners still prefer iPhones, while low income earners still prefer Chinese brands.
Bphone has been facing criticism that its CEO Nguyen Tu Quang admitted that he suffered from depression when reading comments about the phone model on social networks.
Vietnamese smartphone brands have not been welcomed by Vietnamese customers. BKAV has launched three generations of Bphone, but high income earners still prefer iPhones, while low income earners still prefer Chinese brands.
Meanwhile, Mobiistar products are rarely seen in the home market. In 2018, the brand owner stated that it focused on conquering the Indian market, where there are more users and there are still opportunities for low-cost products.
The questions from the local press about Mobiistar’s return remain open.
The mobile phone manufacturer, which once stated that it would ‘popularize mobile phone to every Vietnamese family’, now focuses on India.
Meanwhile, Asanzo, after two years of trying to make low-cost products, has given up. Its CEO Pham Van Tam said the company now focuses on the core business field – making TVs and household use appliances.
To many people, the death of Vietnamese brands was foreseeable.
“What can they do to create the phones, except build a brand and outsource to Chinese manufacturers,” said Mai Trieu Nguyen, director of a mobile phone distribution chain in HCMC.
An analyst agrees, saying that Vietnamese companies lack source technologies. Their mobile phones are made in China, then imported to Vietnam and sold as Vietnamese products.
“The brand owners understand the rural market well: they provided products with large batteries, 2 simcards at low prices, and that was all,” he commented.
However, they later could not compete with Chinese brands such as Oppo, Honor, Huawei and Xiaomi on price.
Vietnam’s real estate-tech-retail giant Vingroup started construction on its smart phone factory - the second of its kind - in Hanoi on June 10.
“Applying luxury tax on smartphones is contrary to Industry 4.0,” Pham Hai Van, northern director of local technology firm Haravan JSC, told VIR when talking about HCMC’ proposal to impose such a tax on devices that they think are essential.