Vietnamese Facebook clones’ face off: FaceViet vs. GuongMat vs. Tamtay vs. VC Corp vs. you name it…

More Vietnamese Internet players are joining the Facebook cloning bandwagon, and there are 15 billion reasons they may end up like their Chinese counterpart Xiaonei.

Coming earliest to the field should be GuongMat.com, an exact Facebook clone from design to functions to everything. It is rumored GuongMat is put up by an oversea Vietnamese. GuongMat’s advantage is its clean and intuitive interface and easy to use Facebook functions like photo and message. However, that’s all what GuongMat have on its face. With these assets, GuongMat might have 240 million improvements ahead before becoming a Vietnamese Facebook.

Tamtay.vn is the second guy entering the field. Actually when entering Tamtay, you should expect a buffet of web 2.0 mess, from video clips to photos to everything you can imagine. The only thing why I categorize Tamtay as a Facebook clone is its recent redesign to look exactly like Facebook. Tamtay is in a serious identity crisis, and until their management can pronounce concisely in one sentence what business model it is hatching, another 240 million improvements should be worthless.

Interesting enough is new comer FaceViet, which will launch amid fanfare from this November 20. Khoa Pham assembled a very interesting feature on FaceViet through his interview with FaceViet’s CEO, so I would not elaborate more on this. From my point of view, FaceViet has a cool name and a pretty design, taking its dark red as signature color (although this makes the site too feminine). I would say this is a very smart identity move, as it is exactly opposite to Facebook. Key functions of FaceViet are news feed/mini feed, photos, events, super wall etc. FaceViet’s clever product strategy should make it one of the first to earn Vietnamese Facebook clone marquee.

It is rumored VC Corp, one of Vietnam’s leading web 2.0 players with popular Baamboo and Sannhac services, is also busy preparing a Facebook clone. This might create a lot of difficulties for FaceViet, as VC Corp is well known for their technology capabilities and smart marketing concepts.

The face off between Vietnamese Facebook clones therefore will just intensify in the coming time, but it is easy to see a future between the two horses: FaceViet and VC Corp. FaceViet have assembled a group of passionate and well-educated management team. It has done some early good work in brand identity and technology platforms. Meanwhile, VC Corp’s people have a team of very experienced managers but not just simply theoretical knowledge. They well know the pulse of the market, and is a deep pocket player as well. One more thing that FaceViet can not match VC Corp is VC Corp’s unrivalled reach through its key web properties. My prediction is that VC Corp will soon surpass FaceViet in terms of customer acquisition and become the No. 1 Facebook clone in Vietnam.

A subjective prediction it is, but any winner in this red sea battle will find it in another challenge: how to find the vitality for its Facebook clone. I would stand by my viewpoint that Facebook is uniquely a US phenomenon. Any attempts to replicate Facebook in another culture and country are risky enough. All Vietnamese Facebook clone should look to neighbouring China to find heavily VC-backed Xiaonei, the most successful Facebook clone ever in Asia, as a good example. Vietnam, like China, has its own cultural context and any attempts to replicate international business model with “top-down” approach rather than from “bottom-up” demand analysis should have to pay a considerable price tag.

Maybe in one years’ time, all my predictions will be proved utterly wrong. In that case, forgive me for a viewpoint that has taken Vietnamese culture, context and consumer insights too far in business strategizing.