Yahoo! 360 exodus: where’s the new land?

Yahoo has made it very clear to the Vietnamese 360 community that it will terminate the service on July 13. There have been heavy discussions on which platform these one million Vietnamese bloggers will migrate to. So I think it’s fun to join the on-going conversations.

Before delving into predictions, let’s take a look at the three most important services that Y!360 are providing for its users:

  • Social networking service: Y!360′s enabled users to connect and keep in touch with each other. Most of the connections were initialized by existing relationships on Yahoo Messenger, Vietnamese’s king of Instant Messaging clients.
  • Blogging service: Y!360 has not only acted as a platform for Vietnamese users to express their (vastly personal) thoughts, but also been conceived by users to be their online home. This side effect resulted from the above-mentioned fact that Vietnamese users tend to express their personal feelings online rather than write about more series matters.
  • Status updating service: Updating statuses on Yahoo Messenger has essentially become a cybercultural fact in Vietnam. People update their status as frequently as they do with Twitter. Blast serves the need of status updating on the Web.

With that in mind, let’s see where the exodus heads to. I would say they’d go very niche.

Facebook will continue to gain momentum in Vietnam, with an increasing rate of adoption. This SNS will be a stand-alone platform that serves Vietnamese first need of socializing on the Net and should not be included as an alternative platform to Yahoo 360. Facebook does extremely well in connecting “already known” friends, and in terms of social graph, I would say this can be moved pretty fast via email invitation.

Twitter, and local microblogging platforms, will become the second most popular type of service. I doubt if local services stand a chance to beat Twitter. First, Twitter is really catching on here thanks to local media coverage. Second, a local company is getting SMS updates to Vietnam. Third, the rising level of GPRS usage and the forthcoming 3G provision from mobile operators will definitely help grow Twitter here. In the tech community, hardly can you find someone who’s not already on Twitter attending an event.

The total number of bloggers moving to other blogging platform is huge, but scattered. Now that there’s no more “mass market” blogging solution, users will find an alternative that suits their needs. Apparently tech-savvy bloggers will likely choose WordPress. Drupal, etc. as their new home. But the rest will remain confused about what to do next. With the strong marketing advantage right on Yahoo 360, I’m pretty confident that many of them will try to work on their Yahoo! Profile or take a look at Yahoo Plus. Although we tend to look down on Yahoo Plus as a failure, people close to the platform think it’s catching on among teen bloggers.

This is mainly the battle among niche providers of service. As users get more sophisticated, it’s hard to predict which platform will win out in the end. But Yahoo Plus, Yahoo Profile’s upcoming blogging utility, and Zing’s Yobanbe are considered heavyweights.

Yobanbe definitely has a huge advantage if it can leverage Zing’s popularity as Vietnam’s biggest online portal into luring more users. However, I would second that Yobanbe can become the leader in this race because it simply is not good enough (at least for me, I didn’t took to it the first time I attempted to use the service!!!).

While Yahoo is clearly the dominant player in Vietnamese online market, this remains to be seen if they can pertain the position in the next 2-3 years. Google, especially Gmail & Gtalk, is gaining ground. Many are already moving away from Yahoo Messenger and this will definitely put Yahoo services in a disadvantageous position.

I don’t wanna make this a long post, so let’s come to the conclusions:

  • As users go niche, the battle for Vietnamese players mainly deals with providing blogging capability for them. Current players provide too many added features (bloated). I would say they should focus on this single most possible service. A value-added service such as Blasting ability is good to have. Photos and Videos? I don’t think you can beat Facebook!
  • Facebook will be ubiquitous. Either bloggers and non-bloggers will be on this platform
  • For everone who’s on Facebook, they may be on Twitter/ local microblogging platforms too.
  • Guess what? There are business opportunities for local Hosting Service Providers, as they can target users who want to set up their own hosts with registered domains. One nice marketing tip is to provide assistance for these users to help ease the transition. They may work with theme providers too.

Just some fun ideas to start the week. Feel free to add yours.

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2 Responses to Yahoo! 360 exodus: where’s the new land?

  1. Another good blog, Anh Hung. And this could not come at a better time for us, as we intend to have the ‘official’ launch of lamgivn.com in the first week of July. We will of course, continue to do our best in offering people an individual and group microblogging platform and integration points to Twitter (Yahoo Blasts and Facebook status updates soon to follow) which is completely interactive through all mobile phones.

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