For the last few weeks, Amazon owned Alexa has reported an influx of Vietnamese search terms in its real-time list of what's trending around the world. 'Dich Vu Boa Thue', 'Thanh Lap Cong Ty' and 'Dich Vu So Sach Ke' are, at the time of writing, the second, third and fourth most searched terms according to Alexa. Can they really be the most searched terms on the whole web right now? And if so, why?
The answer to the first question is, no, probably not. Alexa gets most of its data from users that have a certain toolbar attached to their internet browser. IBTimes UK tried to contact Alexa and Amazon to discuss and confirm where the search terms had come from and whether a nuance about Alexa's data gathering might have caused the terms to come higher in the list, but attempts to contact have not yet been answered.
The search terms all relate to business practices, notably for the Service industry. Some are about reporting taxes and good book-keeping, others are simply about incorporating a new business. The phrase 'Dich Vu' pops up in most, this refers to the service sector of an economy - generally thought to be the trade in intangible things, for Vietnam this includes a burgeoning tech industry.
Vietnam's education system has for years seemed way ahead of its economy. The World Bank puts Vietnam at 55th in terms of GDP for 2014 but the Programme for International Student Assessment's latest rankings put the country much higher for student scores. 15-year-olds in Vietnam comes 16th in Mathematics scores and 7th in science. Comparatively, the UK comes 25th in Mathematics and 20th in Science.
This goes some way to explaining Vietnam's boom in tech start-ups. Along with the high scoring students, mobile phone penetration is reportedly over 100% and about half of the 90m people in Vietnam have access to the internet - the 15th highest number of internet users in the world.
Almost as proof for Vietnam's entry into the list of tech-savvy countries, one of the biggest iOS games of the last few years, Flappy Bird, was developed by Dong Nguyen, from Vietnam, and published by Vietnamese based .GEARS studios.
Another signal of Vietnam's rising growth in the sector is the interest the country is getting from outside. Booming Silicon valley seed investment firm, 500 Startups, announced earlier in November that they're investing in eight Vietnamese companies. According to Bloomberg, these were primarily E-commerce, messaging and online ticketing startups.
A Vietnamese company founder told Bloomberg that the country was becoming so popular for tech companies because it has talented developers that don't cost as much as other tech-savvy countries. "We have developers here as strong as Singapore does, at a third of the cost."
Vietnam's economy has been rapidly growing since the country opened up in the 1980s after years of a planned socialist economy. Interestingly, the country has skipped a usual step in a country's economic development and gone straight into becoming a service-lead economy from an agriculturally-based one, without really leading in the industrial sector. The economy is projected to expand by 6.7% in the next year.
With a talented tech labour force, a growing economy, growing investment from outside the country and the upcoming Trans-Pacific-Partnership looking set to help the economy further, it's maybe little wonder that people are trying to work out how to start and run service-sector businesses in Vietnam.
As to the question of whether these are really the most searched for terms in the world? Probably not.