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Luxuries like fine cosmetics, high-end cell phones, super cars and others now flood Ho Chi Minh City market amidst concerns over rising prices and government measures to reduce Vietnam’s trade deficit.
It is very easy at the moment to find in large numbers cosmetic products imported from the United States, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia and others which are all on display at high-end shopping malls like Vincom, Parkson, Diamond Plaza, and Zen Plaza.
Imports like foot lotions, eye and lip make-up removers, shampoos, and shower creams are growing more and more familiar with cosmetics distributors.
Those items are widely sold in the city and northern provinces as well, a HCMC-based cosmetics dealer told Tuoi Tre.
Hien, sales supervisor of a cosmetics importer, said his company imports around 7 containers of cosmetics worth VND14 billion (US$677,500) each month from Australia, Malaysia, and the US.
Customs authorities at Saigon Port – Zone 1 revealed 2.79 million items of cosmetics worth roughly $3.42 million were imported via Cat Lai port between January 1 and March 10, a 36.1 percent rise in volume and 54.8 percent surge in value over the same period last year.
Meanwhile, barriers like a shortage of dollar supplies, high interest rates, and customs formalities cannot prevent a large number of cell phones from continually flowing into the country.
An importer said it monthly imports around 5,000 cell phones from various countries.
Consumers have gradually switched from cheap and low-end cell phones popular some years ago to middle- and high-end devices now, Nguyen Quoc Bao, chairman and CEO of the import company, remarked.
Over 266,000 mobile phones, a two-fold increase, were cleared through customs in the first 2 months of this year, according to statistics released by customs authorities.
The Southeast Asian nation imported 10,600 cars costing $179 million within the first two months of this year, including high-class brands like Maybach, Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Lexus, Bentley, Porsche, and Ferrari, according to the General Statistics Office of Vietnam.
A customs official in the city said it is very hard to limit the import of luxuries since Vietnam has committed itself to step by step cutting import taxes on those products this year.
For instance, the maximum tariff on cosmetic imports has gone down to 28 percent from 31 percent last year. The rate on cell phones has similarly fallen to 8 percent from a previous 10 percent.
Vietnam previously cut tax on auto imports by 1-6 percent in January.
Its trade deficit last year reached $12.4 billion and the country has projected a $14.2 billion figure for this year.
Import of products that are considered luxuries has almost topped $1.1 billion in value in the first two months, a year-on-year 24.8 percent rise, the Ministry of Industry and Finance said.
Euro Auto, a BMW car importer, said they sold over 150 BMWs at VND1.15-1.44 billion ($55,600-69,700) each in the final three months of last year.
It is reported that no less than 31 Rolls-Royce’s costing $400,000 before tax each are now driven in Vietnam.
Source: Tuoi Tre
Apple users are the most satisfied with customer service pertaining to their mobile phones, although some of the company’s competitors are catching up, according to a recent study.
Vocalabs recently released its research after monitoring customer service satisfaction among mobile phone users during the second half of 2010. These results were compared to the firm’s similar study conducted in the first half of last year, finding that Apple retained its lead in customer service, with 66 percent of Apple users reporting they were “very satisfied” with their phone call with Apple’s customer service representatives. HP’s 51 percent and Dell’s 49 percent of “very satisfied” customers followed.
However, Apple’s lead diminished during the second half of the year. The research measured a “nuisance factor” among these companies, composed of the three most common customer service issues, interactive voice response issues, irrelevant or repetitive steps and difficulty reaching a company representative.
In this area, the number of Apple customers subjected to a “nuisance factor” jumped from 21 percent in the first half of 2010 to 35 percent in the second half. Dell, meanwhile, reduced its nuisance factor by 9 percent during the same period, from 55 percent to 46 percent.
Apple’s customer service successes may contribute to its customers’ brand loyalty, as 84 percent of respondents said they would purchase another Apple mobile device, according to the report.
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There’s no denying that Google’s Android operating system is a striking success. Consumer and business users are buying more than 200,000 Android-based mobile phones and other devices daily, according to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who made the announcement Wednesday at the Techonomy conference in Lake Tahoe, California.
The mobile OS’s rapid growth, as well as the sheer volume of Android handsets on the market, poses a serious threat to Research In Motion’s BlackBerry platform. While RIM leads the U.S. smartphone market with an impressive market share of more than 40 percent, Android and the Apple iPhone are steadily gaining ground.
RIM’s strength has long been in the enterprise market, which craves the sophisticated security, data management, and corporate e-mail and calendar features that BlackBerry does so well. The new BlackBerry 6 operating system and Torch 9800 smartphone play to RIM’s strengths, while adding trendy end-user features such as social-networking feeds and a higher-resolution (5-megapixel) camera.
With its competitors gaining ground, is BlackBerry still the best choice for the enterprise? Other mobile platforms, including Android, iPhone, and soon Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7, are adding more business-friendly features, including the ability to secure corporate data by remotely wiping lost or stolen devices. But according to Forrester Research analyst Andrew Jaquith, Blackberry, which uses encrypted using industry-standard algorithms to encrypt all of its communications, remains the “gold standard” of secure devices for business.
RIM makes a similar argument: Nobody touches our enterprise tools. Tom Goguen, RIM’s vice president of product management, says that managing mobile phones in the enterprise is lot like managing desktop computers. “Having one PC (is easy), one person can keep track of it,” he says. “But when you have a thousand or ten thousand of them, there’s some work you’ve got to do.”
He points out that upcoming versions of the BlackBerry 6 and BlackBerry 5 operating systems will have more features designed to keep personal and corporate data separate–tools that can stop distracted (or clueless) employees from inadvertently releasing sensitive business data into the wild.
BlackBerry excels at “preventing data leakage from the device,” Goguen adds. “If I get e-mail from my company, and another e-mail from my personal Yahoo account, the device will prevent me from copying and pasting information from the company e-mail into my Yahoo e-mail.”
Similarly, BlackBerry can stop an employee who receives a file attachment from a company mail account from forwarding the attachment to a personal (e.g., Gmail) account.
The platform segregates mobile apps too. “An app that gets pushed to me from my company’s BlackBerry Enterprise Server can be regarded as a trusted app–it can edit and use data I receive from the company,” says Goguen. “But an app that I download from, say, the BlackBerry App World will be regarded as a personal app and won’t be able to access corporate information.”
BlackBerry’s enterprise tools are indeed powerful, but RIM’s weakest link may be its hardware design. Despite many refinements, including the Torch’s improved browser and a slide-out keyboard, the phone’s appearance–particularly its 3.2-inch 360-by-480 display– seems a tad out of date in an era of relatively big-screen handsets such as the HTC EVO 4G and Motorola Droid X.
RIM has the delicate task of try to please its large installed base–and BlackBerry devotees do love their phone’s physical keyboard–while expanding (or at least preserving) market share. It will, however, have to expand its selection of smartphones–a daunting task in an industry where numerous competitors are churning out innovative Android devices at a maddening pace.
Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter http://twitter.com/jbertolucci ) or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com .