Most of us know VNG as a gaming company. It was formerly known as VinaGame, after all. Google sees search as its castle and all of its other products as a moat. VNG sees gaming as its castle, and its web ecosystem as a moat.
This strategy has been played excellently by VNG in the past decade as it grew websites like mp3 Zing, Zing Me, and Zing News. All of these, ranging from mp3 download services to a social network that, up until 2012, was beating Facebook with over 12 million users, were VNG’s moat. Those tactics turned users back onto VNG’s gaming platform where they could use their Zing account to buy credits and play games. VNG successfully placed its bet on building an entire ecosystem.
But that was a web strategy, now the tech landscape in Vietnam is changing very fast.
The mobile frontier of VNG
In the next few years, mobile is clearly the battlefield for consumer tech companies like VNG, which want to stay in the consciousness of the consumer as the go-to tech brand. There are over 140 million cellphones in the country and there are over 20 million smartphone users. This number is only going to grow. And this is exactly why VNG has pumped millions of ad dollars into growing its flagship chat app, Zalo. Zalo hit 10 million downloads last month. That’s nearly 50 percent of all Vietnamese smartphone users. And that also means VNG has basically beat out foreign competitors like Line, WeChat, and KakaoTalk.
At the same time, VNG is pursuing more technical mobile products and utilities for consumers. This falls under the La Ban team at VNG, which produces apps like the La Ban dictionary, an English-Vietnamese dictionary, and La Ban Key, a keyboard for users to type in Vietnamese. In other words, VNG wants its projects to be at the heart of Vietnamese users’ mobile experience. La Ban also has more to come with La Ban security apps and more.
The questions is, when will VNG’s mobile gaming platform come? La Ban and Zalo combined are like the mobile equivalent of VNG’z Zing platform. Zing is the moat around the gaming platform. La Ban and Zalo combined are the moat, but where is VNG’s mobile castle?
Now, how does this all fit?
At Startup Asia Singapore on May 7 and 8, we’ll be exploring this question further: what is the eventual strategy for VNG’s mobile ecosystem? And what will VNG do with its now slowing web strategy?
We’ll chat with VNG’s co-founder and CEO Le Hong Minh about how the mobile space in Vietnam will play out with VNG at the helm. We’ll also talk in-depth about Vietnam’s social media, game, and ecommerce landscape.
If you’ve got any questions for Le Hong Minh, please let us know by filling out this form. Or, on the day of our session with VNG’s CEO (May 7), you can post questions via the #StartupAsia hashtag.
Tickets for Startup Asia Singapore can be had here. There’s a 10 percent discount until April 24 if you use the discount code earlybirdapril when buying.Editing by Steven Millward