Digital content may be next chapter in Vietnam's IT success story

Digital content may be next chapter in Vietnam's IT success story
Vietnam’s economy is set to gain an additional $5.1 billion by 2020 due to mobile internet growth. Photo by AFP

Fifteen years ago, Vietnam had virtually no information technology industry; today, business is booming and industry insiders say the country's impressive smart phone connectivity has potential to usher a digital content boom.

Given Vietnam’s growing population of IT professionals and its rapidly developing Internet infrastructure, digital content generation has the potential to become the sector's driving force, said Nguyen Thanh Hung, deputy minister of information and communication at the 2016 Internet Day Event.

By 2020, Vietnam’s economy will have added an additional $5.1 billion to its economy, mostly due to mobile internet growth, researchers from Oxford Economics announced during a workshop on Tuesday.

By that time, Government projections anticipate the mobile internet could contribute the equivalent of 6.2 percent of Vietnam's current GDP, while creating 145,600 jobs between 2015 and 2020. 

Le Hong Minh of VNG Corp -- a major online gaming company -- says that by the time those jobs come online, 60 percent of the population will use smart phones  

Even now, Minh added, Vietnam's internet centers around mobile devices rather than personal computers, a situation that promises huge growth potential.

The creation of everything from traffic management apps to viral smartphone games stands as just the latest chapter in the industry's rapid transition from phone manufacturer to software designer.

According to a recent release from the Ministry of Information, Vietnam's Information Technology sector expanded by an average of 34 percent per year and now boasts over 14,000 businesses.

Starting in 2008, annual revenue growth held steady at 60 percent, according to the 2013 White Book on Information and Communication Technology in Vietnam. 

Export-oriented hardware production generated most of that money, as major manufacturers like Samsung shifted smart phone and tablet production to Vietnam to take advantage of cheap labor.

Customs statistics reveal smart phone and electronic parts production has been Vietnam’s biggest money maker; revenue generated by the sector is expected to have grown by 12 percent (or US$4 billion) this year alone.

Though markedly smaller, firms offering IT services have also grown by leaps and bounds.

According to the Vietnam Software and IT Services Association (VINASA), software and digital content contribute over $1 billion to the economy, annually.

The top 50 IT companies generated $1.2 billion in revenue last year,  mostly at outsourcing firms that reportedly employed 30,500 high-skilled tech workers.

According to Internet World Stats, Vietnam is currently ranked 18th in the world’s top 20 countries in terms of the number of internet users. Vietnam has more than 49 million people surfing the internet.

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