VietNamNet Bridge – The developers of content services for mobile phones have been struggling to survive, because they cannot sell products now, when the market remains not big enough.
3G network operators have developed hundreds of content services so far. However, experts believe that the services are too simple not attractive.
Dragging out a miserable existence
Six years ago, MobiSoft belonging to An Ba Company, churned out the applications of English-Vietnamese and Vietnamese-English dictionary which can run on many operation systems, from Windows Mobile to Symbian. Bui Huu Thuan, Director of An Ba Company, was proud of the software product, because it not only showed the capability of the company in making applications for mobile phones, but it was also hoped to “feed” software makers.
However, An Ba has to struggle to survive in the last few years because it has not sold any products as expected. Currently, the company is only selling the software that serves the consultation of telephone directory. Clients have to pay 100,000 dong per every installation, while if they want to make online installation, they have to pay 135,000 dong, because they need to send nine messages at 15,000 dong per message.
According to Thuan, about 9000 clients have installed the software, but the money collected from the software is not big enough, which has forced Thuan to seek money from other services to “feed” the staff who make software for mobile phones.
Once trying to develop applications for mobile phones, but Sao Bac Vina has decided to focus on online marketing now. Phung Tan Phat, the representative of Sao Bac Vina, said that the firm never gives up the field, but it is now not the right time to devote staff and spend money on developing software for mobile phones. “Only when you have much money, will you can join the market,” he said.
At present, TMA is one of the very rare firms, which has a powerful workforce of 100 software engineers who specialize in making applications for mobile phones.
Tran Phuc Hong, a senior executive of TMA, said that TMA is brave enough to make investment in the field, because it can “stay on two feet” – the domestic and foreign markets. In the immediate time, the money collected from foreign clients has been used to maintain the qualified workforce, while the domestic market is the target for the future.
Hong said that to date, TMA has developed 10 products, and most of them are the applications for businesses. Most of the applications have been ordered by foreign partners. Declining to reveal concrete figures, Hong said that an application has the sale price 3-5 times higher than the production cost.
It’s difficult to sell products
Phat from Sao Bac Vina said that the biggest obstacle for the software manufacturers is that they cannot have the common voice with network operators.
“They are only interested in the profit sharing proportion, 40-50 or 60 percent of the installation fee per visit,” he said.
He believes that it would be better to contact content providers (CP) in order to obtain more reasonable proportions.
MobiSoft also said it has to bring software products to mobile phone supermarkets to sell. “It is estimated that 1500 clients use the software on searching on telephone directory,” Thuan said.
Nguyen Van Hien, Director of iNet Solutions also said he has been learning about applications for mobile phone for a long time, but he has not made investment yet, because the Vietnamese market is not big enough.
“The existing products are too simple. Meanwhile, if providing applications at higher levels, there will be no user,” he said.
Hong from TMA also said that more and more smart mobile phones have appeared, but users do not want to spend money to buy applications, they just want to use free products. Meanwhile, Vietnamese enterprises still cannot provide the applications attractive enough to clients.