Twitter fails in Vietnam

Last Friday night a big explosion was heard as part of the lobby ceiling of Caravelle, one of the top five-star hotels in HCMC, collapsed and injured several people. Unfortunately, we didn’t hear anything on Twitter regarding such an incident but a tweet citing news articles written about it. If this had happened elsewhere, people would have tweeted excessively as the case was the first  of its kind in Vietnam, which might have led us to assuming that it was a terrorist attack.

Should we conclude that Twitter fails in Vietnam?

No. My take is that it’s not Twitter that fails, but rather our failure to embrace Twitter. My best guess was that many of us who witnessed the event must have blogged about it. And yesterday I saw a video clip on Yume.vn, a newly launched social network, covering the event. But not on Twitter. Nobody here except for a bunch of us talk about Twitter, even the local newspapers rarely mention about it in their articles.

IMHO, social media still play a very humble part in the life of Vietnamese and it takes some years to come for this new trend to overtake traditional media.

And for me, it seems that Twitter is a good tool to measure one country’s technological readiness. Even though it’s not concisely accurate :P , at the moment, most people on Twitter are technology enthusiasts. A lot of people in India, Thailand and Singapore are on Twitter right now. We’re not, which is sad.

However, one good piece of news is that we’re gonna have a Twitter clone for Vietnamese that allows people to tweet from their mobile phone via SMS messages. Let’s see how this works out. Chinese Twitter clones have outperformed Twitter, hopefully we can do it too. Hold your breath (thanks @khanhlnq for the hint).

Regarding the explosion, it seems to have been caused by methane gas.

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14 Responses to Twitter fails in Vietnam

  1. Dan says:

    Twitter’s on site coverage is mostly based on technology that’s not available in VN. smartphones, reliable wifi, and fast telecoms data services are all missing from the market here still.

    Even more important, though is the twitterSMS link. It’s not available here because VN regulation creates very high prices for international SMS and telephony…absurdly high. The same reason SkypeOut to VN costs $.33/min instead of the $.016 in the rest of the world is why twitter can’t afford to link with VN SMS service.

    IMO it’s not a twitter failure or a VNese people failure, it’s a VNese regulations failure

  2. AnhHung says:

    i wrote this with the assumption of tweeting via sms is quite cheap because the other day Rick show Christine, one of our friends, how to do it. I will need to check with him because it’s possible that “cheap” in his meaning is not quite cheap in reality.

    Apart from that, regulations are really a headache, thanks for the comment :)

  3. clarious says:

    As Dan has said, the main problem is VNese infrastructure. Not only we are lacking recent technologies like 3G, but also our current services are pretty suck, for example my EDGE connection is very unstable, sometimes I can’t connect at all, or internet connection, I have to abandon quite a few interesting linux distro just because I can’t connect to their update server (VNN sucks -_-’).

    As you may have already noticed, VNese services is currently focusing on “width”, not “depth”, they just try to get more user, but not improving the service for existing users, so the quality just go down and down. Really, I getting crazy with all those “GPRS” and “java game 3D” ads on TV daily, if we have 3G or push email we can get rid of old and expensive technologies like GPRS or SMS.

  4. Rich says:

    @Clarious Can you use BitTorrent to get the Linux distros?

    rjhintz on twitter

  5. AnhHung says:

    @rjhintz: that’s the default choice nowadays, especially during the first days after the release when too many people are floodding the http and ftp servers

  6. christine says:

    ah hung, you didn’t know that my company covers my cell phone charges so i can twitter sms all day and never have to pay for a new phone card!

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  8. This summer Twitter stopped sending messages via SMS outside the US. It was too expensive. Twitter used to be workable in Vietnam until that point. It might cost VND5,000 to send a Tweet to Twitter, but it was free to follow people via SMS. Now it is impossible to follow.

    It would be sad if the solution were to isolate Vietnam with a clone, so Vietnam loses global visibility in the “tweet-sphere”. What we need is a local SMS gateway that sends and receives SMS’s at low local rates, and picks them up and sends them to Twitter via a Twitter API gateway to the Internet.

  9. Chip says:

    I would be astonished if someone tweeted about it first. Twitter users in VN is still very small :D

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  11. Sy Truong says:

    Hi anh Hung,

    I am planning to go to Vietnam next month and am currently in California. I plan to test out twitter. Do you know how it would work with a local cel phone in HCMC. I am also interested in using the twiter clones. Can you recommend one in Vietnam.

    Thanks,
    Sy

  12. kimdisqus says:

    it is very strange that you don't hear about such news on twitter. I live in UK and heard about it straightaway from my friends on twitter

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  14. Eric Morisson says:

    Our favorite & best marketing tools for export our products to Europe: 1. Twitter http://www.twitter.com 2. Facebook http://www.facebook.com 3. Observa Info http://www.observa.info 4. Identi.ca http://www.identi.ca 5. Gold Supplier of the European Union http://www.goldsupplier.eu By the way, it is also good idea for export to Canada and United States if you need.

    Regards,
    Eric
    Export Manager

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