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The Wordies 2015 - The Technology Awards

For making Vietnam into the IT hub that it was always meant to be

 

The ‘most likely to be sued by Apple and Google simultaneously” award goes to...

Bphone

 

A Vietnamese company is finally producing smartphones — and it’s about time.

 

The self-styled ‘World Smartphone Masterpiece’ uses BOS, an Android-based operating system, and comes with pre-installed apps for internet phone calls. They also state that they are the first smartphone with firewall technology.

 

Manufacturer BKAV offers three versions, ranging from VND10.9 million for the 16GB edition to VND22.2 million for the 128GB Limited Edition, making them ... totally not cheaper than the competition. The phones can be bought on instalment at 0% interest, at least for now. By comparison, a 32GB Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge initially retailed for VND19.9 million, or VND8 million if you bought from an unauthorised source.

 

BKAV also manufactures accessories and related smart devices. According to BKAV’s English text, the phone itself offers a technological platform comparable to industry leaders such as Samsung, Sony and Apple, as do other lower-priced competitors coming out of China and Taiwan.

 

The Bphone is available in stores nationwide. Whether it catches on here — let alone abroad — is another matter.

 

The ‘VR>RL’ award for social isolation goes to...

Everybody in Vietnam

 

Everybody has smartphones these days. Your local veggie seller? She does. Your motorbike mechanic? Rocking an iPhone 5. The gaggle of little kids in school uniforms? All tucked behind smartphones except for that one kid with the tablet. (And the lame kid with the flip phone, but we don’t talk about him).

 

Then there’s the guy selling a couple dozen of them off a blanket on Ba Thang Hai, next to the bearded, grumpy dude selling faux-folk art and the old lady selling wallets and belts.

 

Globally, smartphones and related items like tablets are probably the most influential pieces of technology since the internet itself. They’ve now conquered Vietnam, too, mere months before Starbucks’ scheduled takeover bid.

 

At least we’re all using them for serious, high-minded stuff.

 

The ‘don’t blame the sharks’ award for apoplectically slow download rage goes to...

Power leaks, weather, anchors and fishing

 

Internet slowdowns caused by problems in the AAG (Asia-America Gateway) fibre-optic cable in 2015 beat last year’s record, with four distinct events. Vietnam experienced slowdowns starting Jan. 5, Apr. 13, May 26 and Jun. 7.

 

The cable connects many Asian countries to the US. A new trans-Pacific trunk connecting the same regions is scheduled for completion in 2016.

 

Despite the viral 2010 YouTube video, experts and evidence tend to agree; it isn’t the sharks. Although attracted by the cables’ electrical fields, sharks can’t bite through the Kevlar, plastic, fibreglass, copper, aluminium and even steel casings. The shark meme has proved popular, however, being cited by websites like The Daily Dot.

 

Reliable information is hard to come by, with many sources giving not only contradictory causes, but conflicting dates, locations and lengths of outages. One source even claimed a fifth event, from late January to early February. Experts claim anchors and fishing as the most likely cause, except when they say it’s power failures in cable segments. Or weather.

 

The 20,000km-long trans-Pacific cable was severed on Jan. 5, though no cause was given by AAG reps at that time.

 

April’s month-long event was caused by “power leakage”, a term of nearly Star Trekkian scientific vagueness. In May, after only two weeks of normal internet speeds, the cable again reportedly suffered a cut of unknown, or at least unstated, origin.

 

June’s slowdown was the result of AAG engineers putting in some much-needed maintenance. After a two-week refit, connections have remained speedy since.

 

Or maybe AAG finally applied shark repellent.

 

The ‘five experts, six opinions’ award goes to...

Internet Speed Rankings

 

Speaking of the internet, how fast does it actually run here in Vietnam? Several competing studies are making the internet rounds.

 

One new global survey ranks Vietnam as the 99th fastest country in the world for connection speeds, despite an increase of 300Gbps since 2013. Akamai Technologies put Vietnam’s average user speed at 2.5Mbps, tied with the Philippines and just above India. It ranks as the slowest country in Southeast Asia.

 

Except that Internet World Stars ranked Vietnam’s download speeds as 17.54Mbps, behind only China and Thailand.

 

Or perhaps it’s 57th in the world, second only to Singapore in Southeast Asia, as told by Netindex.com.

 

But who cares, right? As long as it’s fast enough to stream HD cat videos on YouTube and incite vitriolic flame wars about how much Game of Thrones has deviated from the novels, we’re warm and snuggly inside that soothing blue glow.

1 comment

  • MN Designer
    MN Designer Monday, 14 December 2015 23:27 Comment Link

    Well! No...BPhone is not a good Smartphone up to now. It get a lot of bugs since released. The design looks goo...however, the important thing that is how it run. I don't like Bphone at all.

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