Vietnam gaining in importance in the tech world

Japan and Taipei already have advanced technology markets that are booming, but other Asian nations are quickly trying to join the global tech powerhouses.  One nation, in particular, is Vietnam.  

Just eight years ago, Vietnam had 500,000 internet users, but 2008 numbers indicate the country has more than 20 million users.  IDG Ventures believes there will be 36 million wired users by 2010, with the number only expected to grow as more villages get internet access.

"We are trying to create a little Silicon Valley here," said Don Phan, who left Silicon Valley to create his own tech company in Vietnam.  "I tell my guys they can wear flip-flops and work remotely -- the things we do in Silicon Valley."

Companies such as Yelp, Craigslist, Facebook and LinkedIn are working in Vietnam, and more companies are expected to open up offices in Vietnam later.  Yahoo and eBay both have a big presence in the nation, but have yet to open up their own offices in the country -- but expect to hear about startup acquisitions or possible Vietnamese headquarters being constructed.

Yahoo remains the most popular site in the country, even though it's a foreign-based intently. American, Japanese and Taiwanese companies are expected to continue dumping venture capitalist funds into the growing Vietnam industry.

Canon, Sanyo, Sony, Fujitsu, Toshiba, Matsushita and other Japanese companies are investing billions into new R&D and manufacturing plants in Vietnam.  A Canon laser printer factory will soon output almost 80 percent of the company's laser printer units, industry insiders report.

An area of concern is online advertising in the country, which is rather flat at the moment.  Once a proper advertising infrastructure is put into place, then more online entrepreneurs are going to be willing to roll the dice and enter the country.

Another area concern is government involvement in the budding industry, as government officials are still unsure and inexperienced at handling the new generation of technology.  The Vietnamese government has no problem assisting companies like Intel, but startup companies must wade through an unorganized bureaucracy that remains unforgiving towards them.

But the government continues to support an open door policy for foreign companies, and sometimes offers incentives for companies to begin working in Vietnam.  Vietnam's low labor costs and low finished product cost are two other reasons companies are willing to create new facilities in a country that still isn't technologically advanced.

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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