Viber says it is not worried about WhatsApp entering the voice calling space. Viber - the mobile messaging and VoIP company that was acquired by Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten Inc for $900 million in February this year - is confident about the superiority of its services.
“When it comes to making calls using data connection in the phone, we have better technology. We are confident that we will offer the most clear and reliable calls using data connection. Other app makers may try to include the same feature in their IM apps but our service will be superior,” said Viber Country Head, Anubhav Nayyar.
The statement has been made following competing messaging app, WhatsApp’s announcement to add voice calling services by the second quarter of 2014.
Messaging apps are redefining communication in more ways than messaging alone. Israel founded Viber became popular for disrupting the voice calling space in 2010; it gave a stiff competition to services like Skype, the long-standing Microsoft-owned VoIP service that everyone used for making cheap international calls.
With currently over 17 million registered users in India and over 300 million users worldwide, Viber does not serve advertisements yet. This might change though after the recent acquisition by Rakuten. The messaging app earns through selling ‘stickers’ and paid calling services to landline and cellular numbers.
Viber’s confidence on its technology is commendable, though its statement about not being bothered by WhatsApp’s upcoming voice calling services - a service feature that lured users to Viber from Skype - seems questionable.
Viber should be worried as Whatsapp also plans to disrupt the voice call business and it has the bigger pie.
Following Viber’s $900 million acquisition by Rakuten, WhatsApp, the more popular mobile messaging app with over 40 million active users in India and 465 million active users worldwide at present, was acquired by Facebook for a deal worth $19 billion.
Soon after the acquisition, WhatsApp founder Jan Koum announced his intention to disrupt the voice call business, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Acknowledging India to be a big market that adds on an average 5 million users every month, he hoped that the messaging app will have a billion users from India itself by 2014. Koum said the company will focus on quality, simplicity and performance to become the world standard for voice, just as it has become the world standard for messaging in five years.
For perspective, Viber has lesser active user numbers. In a recent interview with DNA, Nayyar had informed that Viber was witnessing 4 million active users from its 16 million India base in February.
Additionally, Nimbuzz, a messaging app providing voice calling service, is partnering with Indian telcos to provide international calling at subsidized rates.