Daily Debrief: Making sense of a gadget-crazed Vietnam
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>> Dong Ngo spent part of December back in his homeland of Vietnam, filing occasional dispatches about how technology is permeating the society and the culture, and Dong is back, jetlagged.
>> Really jetlagged, yes.
>> Very jetlagged. How long were you there?
>> I was there for about three weeks, almost four weeks.
>> And the last time you were back in Vietnam was when?
>> Was about a year ago. So I go back, like, once a year probably.
>> Can you tell me, how has technology been infiltrating the culture of this society, especially maybe over the period of from, let's say, 1990 until now.
>> Wow, that would be like huge, a huge amount, because --actually I left there in 1999. And there was almost nothing there. I had a -- all I had is a computer, [inaudible] computer and no Internet. And people had heard about the Internet there, but there was no existing, or no real experience about the Internet at that time. Maybe a few people had, but the majority had no idea what Internet was.
>> When was the takeoff point?
>> The takeoff point probably, I think, five or -- five years ago maybe. I went back in 2004, 2005. People are, like, you know, into having Internet. Actually my sister then started having Internet. And the first thing the dial-up, and then they moved to having broadband. And now it is everywhere. Now, it's just very popular.
>> Has Vietnam become as gadget-crazed country as, let's say, China or Japan?
>> I think it probably -- I haven't been to Japan, but I think probably at a same level. I mean the level excitement. I mean not sure what the level of gadgets, but the excitement, it probably the same. If not -- I think it's even more than here in the States. People are really excited about technology. And if you are there, you feel like people is actually living it -- they're actually, truly living it. You see people are texting all the time. And you go to any Internet cafes; you see it's almost filled all the time. And people with laptops sitting, you know, in a cafe, or even on the street sometimes, too.
>> Is there a local entrepreneurial technology community, even at a very, very modest level, in Vietnam?
>> I don't know about the community, but I think all the young people there, and the countries very young, by the way. I mean the population of Vietnam, 85 million, but I think the majority are young people. And all of them are very excited about technology. And I mean, you could find most of them in a city, or most any young people that you meet would have a cell phone. And they would talk about stuff that happening around the world, some of the stuff that they've read on the Internet. Or they chat a lot with the Yahoo Messenger. Or they join some forum, and talking about different issues. So it's very popular. It's just everywhere.
>> Well, one of the things that's popular is software. Software piracy is pretty rampant.
>> Yeah. It is actually -- to me, it's kind of ridiculously rampant. If you go through any kind of -- you know, any big street of Hanoi or in Saigon, you're gonna see on of those store like that. And I can say -- I can safely say this, if you go to any computer store, you can actually get some piracy software. And not all of them like that, but you can --probably can. And there are a few special streets in Vietnam or in Ho Chi Minh City in Saigon that you're gonna find a ton of store like that. And they open -- very openly.
>> The business software alliance, I think, put out a report recently. 85 percent of the software of Vietnam is pirated. And the authorities, basically, ignore that?
>> I don't think they ignore that. They really try to clean that, really, but the problem is that -- I think it's impossible because people need software. And that's the only way they can use software that -- you know, use the bootleg version of it. There's no way they can afford to buy -- you know, and to pay $200.00 for a version of Windows or any software that -- the way we pay for it over here in the States. So the government, they really want to try to clean up, but the people themselves, they feel like that is the only option they can -- they have for the [inaudible] software. And it's really hard to enforce anything if the people themselves don't believe in it. So I don't think the government like it, but I don't think there's any other good solution to actually clean it.
>> Last question. PC or Mac, what's more popular?
>> PC for surely is. I do see a lot of Macintosh machine over there, and the iPhone is very popular. But when it come to software and computer, people still -- computer is Windows. Window is computer, the some kind of thing. They do not have -- they don't that there are many different options other than Window operating system. They feel like Microsoft is the computer.
>> Well, Bill Gates over Steve Jobs.
>> Yeah, exactly.
>> Great stuff. Thanks. On behalf of CNET News, I'm Charlie Cooper.
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