Vietnam, Flash, Google, CD-Roms and a Pernickety Marketing Executive
Saturday December 22nd 2007, 3:16 pm
Filed under: News Update


Vietnam - a surging new market?

Vietnam has attracted a record $15 billion in foreign direct investment so far this year, up nearly 40 per cent from the same period last year, an official said. The amount strengthened booming Vietnam’s reputation as the new Asian magnet for investment, thanks to low wages, high literacy and a youthful population. Of the fresh capital, more than $13 billion come from 1,283 newly licensed projects and the remainder from the expansions of existing projects, said Phan Huu Thang, director of the Foreign Investment Department under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

“Most of the new projects invest in services and technologies,” Thang said, adding that investors from Asia make up most of the fresh investment capital. South Korea took the lead with $3.68 billion, or 24.5 per cent of the total of newly registered capital, followed by the British Virgins Islands with $3.5 billion, Singapore with $1.55 billion and Taiwan with $1.14 billion. “The figures show that Vietnam is becoming a more attractive destination in Asia for foreign investors,” Thang said. Thang forecast that the total inflow into Vietnam would exceed $16 billion this year, a substantial jump over the initial target of $13 billion.

This report, published in the Bangkok Post adds credence to other recent resportse that Thailand has been downgrading its status as an investment destination, whereas Vietnam has been working in the opposite direction.

Last year, the Thai interim government implemented increasingly nationalistic policies and the investment climate here has deterred many would-be investors.

Only a few web companies are operating successfully out there at the moment but, with Vietnam’s business environment expanding as it is, we conclude it won’t be long before all this changes. It extends our Asian exposure to boot. With this in mind, we have set up a strategic partner in Ho Chi Minh City with the long-term view of gaining market share.

In just four days following the launch of, the site got to #15 on Google and #2 on Yahoo! for “vietnam web design”. It just goes to show how little the Vietnamese market is saturated with web design companies competing for business. We’ve just returned from a week’s fact-finding mission, which went very well.

We have also launched and will be setting up the same deal there some time soon.

Online marketing and our new year’s policies

For the past couple of years our online marketing rates have remained stagnant. Most people would concur that search engine marketing could be counted amongst the most obscure, deafeningly dull subjects to discuss over a quiet beer, even though there’s big money in it.

This year we have adjusted our rates slightly upwards and have excluded SEO from our overall package prices. After research, we found that we have been significantly cheaper than other companies in the market, so we are now asking for a performance bonus on a results-based platform, which we feel is a far fairer model for our clients - and us, of course.

For more information, you can download our new, unique pricing model by clicking here.

Flash and the art of motorcycle maintenance

Once upon a time on a dusty maidan there hung a rectangular flag. It was solid purple except there was a thin ring-shaped hole that had been cut out of it through which one could see the sky.

The ring resembled the numeral zero, which had yet to be invented; it was millennia hence before an Indian mathematician made it so. The flag, at the time, proved to be a mathematical impossibility.

One fine day a tortoise walked by the flag and admired its beauty but had no reason to analyse it. By chance, just at that moment, he was greeted by Zeno, a Greek philosopher from Elea.

Zeno said to the tortoise: “It is not wind nor flag; neither one is moving. The Fifth Patriarch taught me that reality is at once immutable and unchanging; only plurality changes; motion is but a mere illusion of the senses.” The tortoise merely nodded in confused agreement.

Google could well be a product of the great Zeno himself as it too doesn’t recognise “movement”, and in fact uses this post-invention argument detrimentally to websites that employ such “pluralities”.

The moral of this story: use Flash as an element, not as the site itself, as Google can neither read nor understand it; it thinks it is “pure illusion”
when it comes to being recognised and, as such, is summarily ignored.

Websites do not achieve good rankings when wholly developed using Flash. And for those who do: sorry, but zero does now exist. You may have a cracking website but the Flash paradox ensures you will receive no online revenue from it.

Best Real Estate Web Awards 2007

V9 Design & Build was nominated last year for the Best Real Estate Web Awards 2007 for the development of the Soho Properties website.

Not that we won, but it was a surprise to be nominated and an accolade to our efforts in making the site what it is.

Google’s downgrading - should we worry?

We must admit to being absolutely mortified one afternoon in late October last year when we were demoted from having a Google PageRank‚Ñ¢ (PR) of 5 to that of 3; but it didn’t affect placement and we still retain #1 positions.

No one except Google really knows for sure why PR dropped for some news sites, but it certainly looked like an extension of last September’s paid directory massacre. At the time, Google targeted some well-known sites in the search marketing world and mainstream news too. Sites included heavyweights such as:
* Washington Post (from 7 to 5)
* Washington Times (from 6 to 4)
* (from 7 to 5)
* New Scientist (from 7 to 5)
* Seattle Times (from 6 to 4)

Google reported that: “selling links muddies the quality of our links-based reputation and makes it harder for many search engines (not just Google) to return relevant results.”

One enlightened reader responded: “The Google conundrum is such that although it doesn’t count its own paid advertising text links results, it does count everyone else’s…and they affect algorithmic results. In my opinion, that’s the flaw in the model.”

As per usual, one rule for Google and another for the rest of us.

Political Corner: What has broadband got to do with the new government?

Mid-way through December last year, Cisco exec Howard Charney, a 35-year veteran of Silicon Valley, lectured at an information and communications conference in Bangkok.

The emphasis of his address was that “education was the route to a better life and the internet has the potential in providing it, even to remote rural areas via wireless communications”.

In Thailand, only 11 to 12 percent of people currently use it, but the hope is that in the future this figure will grow exponentially to empower all Thai people.

That’s all very well and good but steady on here tiger: unless Thailand’s communications infrastructure is vastly improved, by the time this growth happens there will be more people like me who have fallen victim to Tourette’s Syndrome because of access speeds. To become “an operational base for knowledge-intensive industries to operate”, this incentive will inevitably fail unless something is done about the network.

Let’s hope the new government will seriously address this issue, for all our sakes.

CD-Rom Cards: outdated technology or social opportunity?

It’s old, neglected and gimmicky but the giving out of CD-Rom cards instead of 125gsm plastic with your name and logo written on it, whilst not all that practical, could well catch on as a valuable alternative at networking meetings.

In fact, the term “networking” could take on new meaning: on exchange of cards, you plug a networkee’s card straight into the lappie you’re wearing around your neck instead of actually listening to what they have to say. Conversation killers such as this may be the very blessing in disguise you had been dreaming of at such events.

If you find this in any way appealing, take a look at our own CD-Rom Card.

Profile: New clients round-up, 2008

The Light of Buddhadharma Foundation International: I chose this site not particularly for its design - because we didn’t design it; we updated it - but because LBDFI acts as the primary sponsor of the Pali Tipitika Chanting International Council which meets all the living expenses of bhikkhus who travel to ceremonies from within India. It’s an organization endorsed by His Holiness The Dalai Lama.

MegaBooks Thailand: This is a novel idea, if you pardon the pun. We created this site for Richard Murray, who will be selling books and magazines online at discounted prices and delivered straight to your door. It’s about time we had greater access to literature.

X2 Resorts: This was purely an SEO exercise and site hits have grown immesurably after we turned three Flash sites into html sites to get the inside pages indexed. The manager said he wanted to kiss me on the strength of it, which was complimentary but nervy in the extreme.

Thann: I included this site for one specific reason: the marketing executive is the fussiest, pixel-perfect client known to man. It took eons to get it exactly right and when it was, he changed it until it wasn’t. It’s a massage and therapy website, based in Brunei. I have an eerie feeling it’s not quite finished, even yet.

FileVault: This is a New Zealand online back-up system website that was expertly thought through. Its director is not too dissimilar to the man from Thann and again, the end-product needed to be “perfect”. Interestingly, neither men were that fussed with online marketing. Maybe they should be talking to Zeno rather than us?

Vietnam, foreign direct investment up 40 percent

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