Last week, Viet Nam News asked readers about the Vietnamese appetite for stylish technology products, despite slower economic growth and increased living costs. Here are some responses:
Graham Bassett, British, London
Yes, younger Vietnamese do seem to have this thing about mobile phones. In HCM City, I've known popular shops to be very busy even late in the evening.
While numerous stories have been written in the local media complaining about the poor service offered by buses in Viet Nam, earlier this month a writer from the Daily Telegraph wrote an article giving the public means of transport some credit.
Journalist Juliette Elfick said despite the occasional news story about conductors and drivers beating up unruly passengers and buses being dusty and crowded at rush hours, commuting by bus was a wonderful way to be part of the capital city's everyday life.
Elfick also acknowledged the buses were "amazingly cheap", "fairly reliable" and had "very good air con".
She added that the advantages of travelling by bus were that they were quiet and helped beat pollution.
She said buses were a fairly good option when faced with alternative forms of getting around the city, although as she observed, "Ha Noi's bus system is conspicuously absent of foreigners".
From your experience, do you agree with Juliette Elfick's opinions? Have you ever travelled by bus in Viet Nam? How do you compare the bus to other modes of travelling?
Why do you think buses are not popular among foreigners in Viet Nam?
How do you compare the bus service in Viet Nam and that in your country?
Please reply by email to: email@example.com, or by fax to (84-4) 3 933 2311. Letters can be sent to The Editor, Viet Nam News, 11 Tran Hung Dao Street, Ha Noi. Replies to this week's questions must be received by Thursday morning, June 14.
And yet, not all want the latest must-haves. I have several Vietnamese friends who don't want to be seen carrying the equivalent of a brick around with them. To them the Internet is also a big yawn and who can blame them.
From my own experience, using the Internet on a smartphone will never be the same as using a large-screened device. No matter how good the phone screen get, size really does matter.
I suspect Viet Nam will go the same way as people in Britain. Eventually they will look at the all singing, dancing advertising, look at their existing handset and think, what's new?
My own smartphone is three-years-old. The latest models might have faster processors and brighter screens, but mine does everything the new phones can do. I have no plans to replace it.
I also have an eight-year-old basic phone. When I used it in Viet Nam, the wow factor was instant. It is very compact and has the tiniest of screens and I lost count of the number of offers I had for it. Why? Simple really, for such a small phone, it has a full-blown QWERTY keyboard built in, making it ideal for easy texting.
And what do people really like to use mobile phones for? Messaging! Old really can be better.
William Ribbing, Pensacola, Florida
Viet Nam is not alone. As one studies the economic strife of all nations, it is apparent that anyone with common sense would budget for necessities and be prepared to meet future obligations.
Parents are spoiling kids today by giving into their excessive desires, which is just plain stupid. I've seen families starving or living in squalid conditions, yet they have a television or cell phone or other such items that are completely unnecessary.
Some of today's parents faced no shortages because their own parents wanted them to have what they missed out on.
When looking at new products, one should ask: "Do I really need them?" Nine times out of 10 the answer will be "no" because they are not necessities.
If your peers look down on you for not keeping up with their wasteful ways, then logic should tell you that you don't need those peers.
Pham Duc Kien, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
Are we now being defined by the phones we use? People consider smartphones as a way to prove their social status, style and income.
We're living in a world driven by technology, so it's not surprising to see consumers lining up to buy new products whether in a developing country such as Viet Nam or in the corner of a store in Manhattan.
However, chasing technological products can be extremely costly and time-consuming since the market is always moving faster.
Smartphone makers have the talent to make us think that we need their products so that we can function. Besides the money involved, would-be buyers need to examine if the new phone actually serves any extra purpose you consider useful.
If you have the money, there's nothing wrong with buying the latest models. However, when I read about people eating noodles to save money to buy one, I feel that they're striving for something they don't need.
In Viet Nam, many teenagers use the latest version of Iphone 4S. Parents often buy them for their children to play games. But be smart, think twice before buying.
Giang Tran, Vietnamese, HCM City
Vietnamese today have plenty of pressure to buy the latest mobile phones and the so-called smartphone.
As an office executive, I prefer using a cell phone that can support me when I am away from my working desk. Currently I am using a Windows Phone, a new model launched in April.
I am not really a fan of all the gadgets. However, when I consider changing a phone, I look for a device with good design, brand and contents.
The phone should have functions that I really need, but I don't mind discovering some new technology.
Lawry Bee Tin Yeo, Singaporean, HCM City
It's crazy to keep on upgrading mobile phones. Communication is the main purpose for having one.
Mobiles are not pieces of equipment to show or boast about. They are simply too cheap to be seriously thought of as a status symbol.
I like a good mobile phone, but it need not be the most costly model. To be honest, I do have an Iphone, but am also using my old mobile phone, a Motorola which serves for communication.
I avoid going crazy like young people by remembering that these are electronic gadgets and they are quickly outdated. I have a better use for my money. — VNS