by Phuong Mai
The smart phones that people are increasingly using in Viet Nam are aptly named, because their users, mostly young people, are getting smarter at using them.
"For just VND3 million, I can buy a smart phone to help me study and entertain myself," says Nguyen Hong Ngoc of Tan Binh District.
According to a recent report on smart phone ownership in the Asia Pacific region prepared by Nielsen, a global market research company, 30 per cent of Vietnamese currently own smart phones and 42 per cent will consider purchasing them over the next six months.
Ngoc says the reduction in smart phone prices as well as subscription fees for mobile internet connections have motivated people to choose them over non-internet phones.
Tran Thi Thanh, a student of Hong Bang University, bought her Samsung phone more than a year ago and is now addicted to it.
"Everything has become easier with my phone. I can surf the Internet, enter social networking sites, listen to music and read e-books every day on such a small device," she said.
"Moreover, I only pay VND40,000 per month to use the 3G mobile internet connection service freely," she added.
The market now offers many kinds of smart phones designed to fit various pockets, ranging from low to high cost ones produced by local and foreign manufacturers such as FPT, HTC, Samsung and Nokia.
According to IDC Viet Nam, Samsung is the leader in nation's smart phone market, based on strong performances from its low-cost smart phone range, including the Galaxy Y and Galaxy Mini which are priced at around VND3 million.
Bookshelves on the move
The growth of handheld devices and mobile internet usage in Viet Nam is changing the habits of many people, particularly the youth.
Take the reading habit, for instance.
Instead of carrying heavy books, people only need a small device like a cell phone, electronic reader or tablet, and they have a whole shelf of books in hand, literally.
Nguyen Minh Dung of Bien Hoa City says his phone now stores about 50 titles of local and foreign books that he can read anywhere, anytime.
To meet demand, local businesses are trying to develop more mobile applications and products.
The Tre (Youth) Publishing House recently established a new company called YBook to sell copyrighted e-books.
The company will offer more than 5,000 titles from local and foreign publishing houses in September at prices that are 30 to 80 per cent lower than print editions.
Alezza.com, the first website offering copyrighted e-books in Viet Nam, has sold more than 34,000 copies of 2,000 titles since it was launched in May.
"The development of e-books is helping people save their strength, money and time," Dung said.
He said he can buy a book in minutes instead of spending hours going around book stores.
Publishers of traditional books, however, can take heart. Many people still like going to the bookstore and buying the print version.
Nguyen Hong An, a student of Lac Hong University, said although she owns an electronic book reader, she loves browsing bookstores looking for her favourite titles and authors.
"I bought a device to read on the go, but reading traditional books is a more emotionally satisfying experience and I feel more connected to the writers.
"Moreover, it is my hobby." — VNS