Asian Beat #5: The Vietnamese Mobile Games Market, Welcome to Flappy Bird Land (Guest Post)

By Hayley Pearce | September 18th, 2014

Welcome to the fifth instalment of our Asian Beat series! Having dived into South Korea (twice), made it big in Japan and scrutinized the behemoth Chinese market, we now move on to a smaller but extremely promising country: Vietnam. For this specific post we benefit from the insights of Anh Hoang Duc, analyst at Dynamo Partners and native of Hanoi.A couple of months ago Flappy Bird, an app developed by Dong Nguyen, a Vietnamese developer, roared out of the gates like no app before, leaving behind a mobile games industry flabbergasted by its sudden success. Flappy Bird put the Vietnamese mobile games market in the spotlight in the global developer community, and yet many of the country’s facts and figures are still not widely covered. This post aims at shedding some light on the Vietnamese mobile games market, which has many of the characteristics needed for mobile success: a young population who have grown up with smartphones and tablets as their primary internet touchpoint, widely spread internet penetration, and the booming number of smartphones. Let’s first have a look at some stats:

vietnamese mobile games marketSource: http://www.slideshare.net/wearesocialsg/social-digital-mobile-in-apac (click to enlarge)

Out of a population of nearly 92.5 million, over 36 million people (39 percent) use the internet, 20 million (22 percent) are Facebook users, and there are over 134 million active mobile subscriptions, putting smartphone penetration at 146 percent.

The Vietnamese Mobile Games Market: Facts and Figures

Vietnam has more than 135 million mobile phone subscribers and 35 million mobile users, out of which over 18 million are using smartphones. Growth rate figures in Vietnam are impressive, especially compared to Western markets. In 2012, and with 8 million smartphone users (according to a Flurry report), Vietnam was the second fastest growing smartphone market by active devices, just second by Columbia. At the beginning of 2014, the number went up to 18 million and is expected to reach 28 million at the end of the year. That equals for instance the number of smartphone user in Germany. With almost 70% of the country ́s population aging between 15 and 64, the country has up to 60 million potential clients for any industry and service, of course including mobile.

vietnam mobile marketSource: http://www.slideshare.net/hiepsikien/vietnam-mobile-internet-2014-by-mwork-short-version

The Vietnamese mobile games market experienced 125 percent year-on-year growth from 2012 to 2013, and reached 18 million users by the end of 2013. It is expected to reach 28 million, 56 percent growth, at the end of 2014. The growing speed is likely to slow down in the next few years as the market reaches saturation, and already covers the most accessible and affordable users.

There is a strong Android bias in Vietnam with 70.5 percent of smartphone users on Android, 14.8 percent on iOS, 9.5 percent on Windows and 5.2 percent on others. 61.2 percent of all Android devices are running on Jelly Bean, and 32 percent of iOS devices are running on version 7.0.4. The vast majority, 72 percent, of mobile users are men, and most smartphone users are younger than 35 years old (82 percent). 70 percent of mobile users have downloaded a mobile game or app in the last month. Playing games is one of the most popular activities on smartphones, with 72 percent of users doing so regularly.

Mobile User Behavior in Vietnam

Vietnam presents a promising and attractive opportunity for mobile developers, but there are some specific user behaviors and idiosyncrasies that should be kept in mind to successfully enter the Vietnamese market:

  • Tendency to hack or jailbreak phones: Since the country still has a comparably low GDP per capita (just slightly above $1,500),Vietnamese users often hack or jailbreak their phones. Due to a recent report of Appota, a dominant mobile content distributor in Vietnam, only 3 to 5 percent of app revenue is generated via purchased apps, and the ratio is likely to decrease. A Freemium or advertising business model is therefore recommended for mobile developers.
  • Effects of mobile ads: Mobile ads are noticed by 95 percent of smartphone users and 91 percent have performed a search on their smartphone after seeing an offline ad. For developers, a fully defined mobile advertising strategy is not only a vital distribution channel, but also an effective monetization model.
  • Games dominate: As 48 percent of monthly app downloads are games, as reported by the largest local app store, they are still the hottest trend and the most consumed content.

Key Players in the Vietnamese Mobile Market

Understanding the background, market conditions and user behavior is just the start. Developers also need to be familiar with the Vietnamese mobile industry’s main players. To kick this off, here is a list of selected local partners available, which (besides AppLift) may be helpful to you when trying to crack the Vietnam market with your app or mobile game:Alternative App Stores:+ http://apkviet.com+ http://sohastore.vn + http://appvn.com+ http://download.com.vn+ http://apkvn.net+ http://vimarket.vn+ http://cleverstore.vn + http://365app.vn+ www.codengo.comMobile Advertisers+ http://Clevernet.vn+ http://goldsunfocusmedia.com.vn+ http://sosmart.vn Mobile, Games and App Communities+ http://Gsm.vn+ http://Genk.vn+ http://Tinhte.vn+ http://appstore.vnDo you have any experiences and insights that you would like to share about the Vietnamese market? We would love to hear from you. Otherwise: Welcome to Flappy Bird Land – enjoy the ride!Anh Hoang DucAnh Hoang Duc is a data analyst at Dynamo Partners and from Hanoi. He has just finished his Master Degree at the Warsaw School of Economics and publishes various mobile apps himself in Vietnam. 지난 한국(2탄), 일본, 중국 모바일 게임시장에 대한 블로그 포스팅에 이어서, 최근 모바일 게임 업계가 주목하는 유망한 시장인 베트남 시장에 대해 알아보려고 합니다. 이번 블로그 포스팅은 특별히 Dynamo partner와 Native of Hanoi의 분석가인 안 호앙 득(Anh Hoang Duc)이 작성해 주었습니다. 베트남의 모바일 게임 시장이 주목받기 시작한 것은 1인 개발자 동응우옌(Dong Nguyen)이 개발한 플래피 버드(Flappy Bird), 가 전례에 없는 성공을 거두면서 였습니다. 이로 인해 글로벌 게임 시장은 베트남 시장을 떠오르는 시장으로 주목하기 시작했으나, 아직까지는 미개척 시장으로 남아있습니다. 이번 블로그 포스팅을 통해 베트남 모바일 게임 시장을 조명하고, 베트남에서 성공을 거두기 위해 준비할 점들을 살펴보고자 합니다.

Hayley Pearce

Missing person