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  • HarryD 4:07 pm on December 11, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 7sac, Baamboo, Socbay, Timnhanh, , Xalo, Xalo.vn, Zing   

    Vietnamese Google killer Xalo still searching for a solid strategy with a new design, can other Vietnamese search engines advise them? 

    A lot of Vietnamese search engines hope to become the Vietnamese version of Google, some Baidu and the remaining Naver. It turned out a good vision and a lot of money cannot make a good product, not to say a successful, solid, sustainable one.

    Brand it like Ya-who!?

    Xalo.vn might be the latest example. After its launching with much fanfare and a claimed $2m investment, Xalo is finding itself totally lost on its highway. Today, Xalo launched a new homepage design, changing from a simple & clean style like Google and Baidu into a cluttered and confused reflect of Yahoo and Naver, which further mystified its brand positioning.

    Is Xalo a search engine? Yes till yesterday, but today they look like a portal.

    But is Xalo a portal? No, because it doesn’t produce, aggregate, or syndicate contents. Xalo the portal is only its front door, and every click will lead you to the “real” Xalo, which is a search engine.

    You will even get more for less, because go to Xalo and besides search, news, music, classifieds, blogs, pictures…, you will also have translation services, weather forecast, exchange rate, stock quotes, and gold price, all on Xalo’s homepage!

    Are you confused? Yes I am. Because I can’t figure out why I should use Xalo then.

    Agreed that in many Asian cultures, a busy and informative homepage sometimes gain an advantage over the more simple approach. This might explain the success of Naver, and even the Russian Yandex.

    However, this is only the “outsight”. A more careful look into the “insights” should reveal a good combination of user experience offerings, value proposition and competitive positioning. Naver and Yandex are successful not because of their busy and cluttered homepages but their core product offering, which is trully local language search. They do provide a better search results in their respective local languages than the mighty Google, and in the case of Naver, they even “create” search results through social QnA, in Korean characters of course. Google simply cannot compete with Naver in Korean characters, as they did with Baidu’s Chinese characters.

    Fixing homepage should not solve Xalo’s problem. Multiply the product offerings on Xalo’s homepage only multiply their problem. But what is their problem actually?

    Let’s beat Google with a “better” product for Vietnamese!

    Yes this is Xalo’s problem. And sadly enough it is the problem of most Vietnamese search engines.

    These search engines have tried to go vertical, drill down into music, video, blog, forum searches. Some went to jobs, classifieds, news searches. After domination of these satellite verticals, they plot, they will come back to beat Google in universal searches, and launch something like AdWords to monetize this. But there’s nothing more illusionist than that.

    Google has 10 years of history, $20 billions in revenues, 60% of search share, $100 billion of market capitalization, 10,000 employees, and it already dominated search category in Vietnam, or a strong brand positioning in Vietnamese consumers’ mind to be more exact. Moreover, it invented PageRank, indexing, and owns a few hundreds thousand servers.

    Can you think you can beat Google in Vietnam by a better PageRank algorithm, by faster indexing of all Vietnamese websites or un-monetizable verticals like music, videos, classifieds, blogs etc? Or by investing into more servers, “understanding better Vietnamese language” (this would be another illusion, as it turned out almost all Vietnamese users’queries are without Vietnamese intonation marks).

    If Vietnamese search engines want to imitiate Baidu and Naver’s success, they should backward Vietnam’s language history to the “chữ Nôm” age, and luckily this is not a very practical approach.

    Forget beating Google but try repositioning them

    Look at all Vietnamese search engines, or so-called search engines that are competing with Google for user’s mindshare. Vietnamese search users can now choose from Socbay, Baamboo, Xalo, 7sac, Timnhanh, Zing… What are their value propositions, and do they provide a different, desirable search experience for Vietnamese users? I’m afraid not.

    Instead of trying to beat Google, “outperform” them, “out-understand Vietnamese” them, Vietnamese search engines should look for ways to create a new search category by repositioning them. Google is so non-social, so “closed”, so “robotic”, so “un-human”. Position your search engine as something opposite to Google instead of imitating them. Social search, open search, semantic search, human-powered search are some options. It might be more difficult to execute on these competitive positionings, and visions, but might be the least risky way to compete with Google to win hearts and minds of Vietnamese search users, and to offer something different and of value to them.

    Instead of becoming better, it would be easier to become different, or better yet unique.

  • HarryD 5:01 pm on October 29, 2007 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: VinaGame, , Yahoo Vietnam, Zing, Zing Chat   

    Zing Chat prepares to sword Yahoo Chat 

    VinaGame is final testing its Zing Chat IM for an official launch in early November. In fact they bought the popular QQ IM from Tencent and localized it for the Vietnamese market.

    VinaGame is more known in Vietnam for its online game. Some PR work in Vietnamese media stated the company’s revenues at $40 million (amazing!). Their games are mostly licensed from Chinese supplier. Now the company is hoping it can become Vietnam’s Tencent and its coming IPO next year would make it laugh all the way to the bank, at least similar to the story of Mr. Ma’s Tencent in Hong Kong. Tencent is worth $8b, so why Vietnam with 17 million Internet users, a tenth of China’s Interent population, should not be worth north of $800m?

    VinaGame is dreaming big before with the launch of social networking Yobanbe and music search engine Zing MP3. They’ve just launched their Zing portal. Now came in the IM sword. It seems VinaGing is very serious.

    Zing Chat has a bundle of strong points. It offer many cool and cute avatars, very 3D polished indeed. This might be welcomed by Vietnamese teenagers, who are using Chat services like there’s no tomorrow. It can webcam chat with 5 persons at the same time. Sending file is a click at ease. It is integrated with Zing MP3 so that you can listen to popular Vietnamese songs. VinaGame plans to develop more entertainment apps for their QQ pet, so expect more to come.

    However, it seems Zing Duck will find it difficult to sword at elephant Yahoo IM’s back. Vietnamese users has so attached to Yahoo that leaving Yahoo IM for Zing QQ seems unbelievable to most. Zing Chat is heading to become the multifunctional Swiss knife with a strong confidence than ever. However I very suspect the effectiveness of this approach.

    You can listen to Vietnamese music song with Zing Chat. Ha! Teen should be more comfortable using another online music services like Baamboo, 7Sac, Uizaa, NhacVui, and even Zing MP3 itself. Or for a very smart teen, why should not download the songs she likes from these services and play it from her desktop with Microsoft’s zurassic Music Player? How about sending multi GB file? You can use yousendit, or megaupload, or FPT’s xiklo. Cool and polished avatars cannot help here. The only thing that I like is webcam chat with 5 persons. Might be VinaGame has just found out that Vietnamese teenagers love video conferencing, as many of them love to become future business executives some time? Even that way, can you chat with 5 people and looking at 5 screens at the same time and find it’s a worthy Internet experience?

    I like Zing’s ideas and their ambition, but feel anxious if they are going to battle Yahoo this way. You cannot overcome the market leader by becoming better.

    Or maybe you can, and you make the history.

    Of course I have enough time to wait and see.

    • Khaivq 6:32 am on October 30, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      Really like your analysis. Hope to have a chance to meet you in Hanoi.

    • Truyen 8:42 am on March 7, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting. Of course beating Yahoo! is possible with something like Google version 2.

      Something must not be right here. QQ to Chinese is just the Internet, as people say. Same to YIM to many Vietnamese. I know some people don’t even use email or read VnExpress, but they jump directly to YIM and chat.

      QQ may have been following ICQ, but that time the Internet was almost nothing to people, and there were virtually no other competitors in China. For Vietnamese right now, kicking people out of YIM is almost impossible because of the network effect: every friend is there, so why must I leave for a new chat service with no one talking to me?

      Can it be any new experience for Vietnamese chatters?

    • Lai Tung Lam 4:35 pm on March 10, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      “Tencent is worth $8b, so why Vietnam with 17 million Internet users, a tenth of China’s Interent population, should not be worth north of $800m?”
      I think before you do any analysis of this kind you’d better check your mathematic skills.
      How come to you 17 millions = a tenth of 1 billion (1000 millions) ?
      I give you a WOAAAH for that.
      Youngsters in VN are becoming more ‘internationalised’. That means a considerable portion of them are ready to get rid of Yahoo and start to use MSN, Windows Live Messenger .. Zing Chat also allows conversation between MSN and Yahoo, so, why not give it a try ?
      I’m sure Vietnamese teenagers are always open to the new, the improved ones. Yahoo are getting a bit off the way (when i was in VN the Yahoo servers ‘dies’ quite regularly, and Yahoo 9 can’t even connect to them).
      About the music, I agree with you that to some people it seems unnecessary. But, according to you, while some Vietnamese can’t even surf the web to get news, how can they get access to those music sites ? Isn’t it better to listen to music directly in the chat windows ?
      Last of all, I want to tell you that your sarcastic skills really deserve sarcasm. Next time do a better research and I might drop off to see how far you will have progressed on the skills. =B

    • HarryD 4:21 am on March 11, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I would like to warn Lam that my blog is for a well grown up readership that deserve you kid’s respect, so be tamed when you write down something and if not please keep shy away from my blog. This blog might be more suitable for kinda old people with lower IQ and mathematic skills than you, and you well deserve to be recognized somewhere better.

      BTW, if you are a little bit more tamed, you would certainly see the blinking difference between the Chinese population or the “Chinese Internet population” addressed in the article.

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