Posted 02/26/2013 at 12:29 PM
Posted 4 years ago
The free IP instant messaging market is booming at the moment, what with Skype, Whatsapp and Line all boasting user numbers in excess of 100 million. Speaking at the Mobile World Congress, Talmon Marco, CEO of Viber, confirmed that his company’s app – released in early 2011 – is also proving as popular as ever, with users numbers having reached 175 million.
The Viber app runs on all the major operating systems and has seen quite the rise in numbers over the past twelve months, jumping from 50 million in February of last year to 175 million today. Back in December the app passed 140 million users and claimed that it was growing at a rate of 400,000 users a day, so what is it that makes Viber, and other apps like it, so popular with consumers?
Well, according to Talmon Marco, free instant messaging has the edge over operators because consumers want innovation over interoperation. “Operators are at a disadvantage when it comes to innovation due to their need to persuade their rivals to co-operate on interoperability,” said Marco during his keynote speech at MWC. “It will be the OTT vendors that provide them with innovative services, which turns the operator into an ISP – which is not good news.”
OTT (Over-the-Top) vendors such as Viber are not all that liked by carriers, who accuse them of luring their customers. However, Marco feels that carriers and OTT providers can not only co-exist, but also work together.
“By working together we can make the OTT service perform better on the network. We can also help to differentiate blended services. We’re already working with a number of operators on this, and expect to see some results later this year.”
One of the operators that Marco’s company is working with is Axis – Viber having signed a partnership with the Indonesian carrier to provide reduced price packages for consumers using the free messaging service.
Marco also pointed out that operators could improve things for consumers by simplifying data tariffs, making it easy for people to compare plans between carriers. Having built such a successful app that continues to grow at a staggering rate, operators are well advised to take heed.
Asked why Viber has captured consumer attention, Marco gave his thoughts, “Sometimes services take off because of pure luck… sometimes it’s timing. It’s the soul that you put into this. The proof is in the pudding.” With 175 million users worldwide, that pudding must taste pretty sweet for Viber right now!