Viet Nam News
BKAV Technology Group spent eight years and VNĐ500 billion (US$22 million) to make the first “Made in Việt Nam, Designed by BKAV’ smartphone. Việt Nam News speaks with Nguyễn Tử Quảng, chairman and CEO of the company, about its latest offering, the luxury Bphone 2017.
Why did BKAV choose the hard way by designing and manufacturing a luxury smart phone and not a budget or medium-level phone in the market where the competition is intense?
BKAV Technology Group has a long vision and great passion to contribute to Vietnamese development with progress in technology, and we hope in the near future Việt Nam will have a technology brand name like Apple or Samsung. To start with, we decided to invest capital and human resources to create a smart phone fully manufactured by the Vietnamese. After eight years, we are very proud to say that we have achieved our goal.
Our Bphone 2017 is fully made in Việt Nam, with only 0.9 per cent of parts sourced from China, and totally designed by BKAV staff. The quality of our Bphone 2017 matches that of any other luxury phone in the world, and we can proudly say that we can do everything in the design and manufacture of smart phones that famous technology companies in the world like Apple and Samsung can.
Now, at a price of nearly VNĐ9.8 million ($440), we still have to suffer a loss of around several million đồng (around $200) on each phone. But this is the only way to position our product as luxurious and top quality.
With our current technology, it is very easy for us to make a budget smart phone. We might achieve success with regard to income but we would never become a big name like Apple or Samsung. Budget Chinese smart phones offer a lot of benefits, but in customers’ minds, they are low-level products. It’s exactly what we don’t want to do. In the future, we might introduce mid-range products, but the Bphone brand must be closely linked with luxury.
BKAV has the Gold Bphone export version. Can you tell us about it?
We have orders from our Dubai partner for very highly secure smart phones. We are manufacturing the Gold Bphone version to meet the requirements of the luxury market, and of course the price of the Gold Bphone would be much higher than that of the local version.
The core business of the BKAV Technology Group is network security. All the money ($22 million) that we invest in designing and manufacturing the Bphone comes from network security. This is our strength and it allows us to make a highly secure smart phone.
Besides Dubai, we also think about other markets around the world, but we have recognised that no smart phone can be successful outside before achieving success in the domestic market.
So we are focusing on the local market with a fully Vietnamese high-tech product and I believe our Bphone can meet all requirements. Right now, we have to gain Vietnamese customers’ confidence that a Vietnamese company can manufacture a really good smart phone, and it could be among the products in the world with the smallest ratio of Chinese parts at only around 0.9 per cent. When we manage to gain customers’ trust, turnover and profits will follow. We have a desire that in future every Vietnamese will have a Bphone and Việt Nam will have a technology brand name like Apple and Samsung.
Why did you take a long time for Bphone?
As I said before, BKAV Technology Group is a network security. We are very strong at software but had little experience in hardware, especially smart phones in the beginning. We got the idea of making smart phones after, in 2003, I visited Japan and was excited to see their smart houses where everything was controlled automatically. After returning to Việt Nam, BKAV started to manufacture smart devices for homes, and we have achieved great results despite the fact that the Vietnamese market is not very big.
With this foundation in software and hardware, we moved to smart phone manufacturing. But in the first three years, major companies refused to make them for us and we had to go to small companies, but they were not professional and we had to struggle to fit the mainboard. Later Qualcomm agreed to make chipsets for us. All other tasks like engineering, electronics, software, marketing, sales were also very new for us.
The first version of Bphone was introduced in 2015, but it was not as successful as expected. But from that we learnt a lot and many improvements have been made in Bphone 2017.
Now I can proudly say that Bphone 2017 is good enough to fit into the VNĐ10 million segment. We have also improved our distribution by co-operating with Thế Giới Di Động, the leading smart phone retailer in the market, to bring Bphone 2017 to customers. — VNS