Viber

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Viber
Viber logo 2018.svg
Original author(s)Talmon Marco, Igor Magazinnik
Developer(s)Rakuten Viber (part of Rakuten Inc.)
Initial releaseDecember 2, 2010; 11 years ago (2010-12-02)
Stable release(s) [±]
Android15.9.0.5[1] Edit this on Wikidata / 20 August 2021; 10 months ago (20 August 2021)
iOS15.9.0[2] Edit this on Wikidata / 19 August 2021; 10 months ago (19 August 2021)
Windows15.9.0.1 Edit this on Wikidata / 17 August 2021; 10 months ago (17 August 2021)
macOS15.9.0 Edit this on Wikidata / 17 August 2021; 10 months ago (17 August 2021)
Linux13.3.1.22 Edit this on Wikidata / 7 July 2021; 11 months ago (7 July 2021)
Preview release(s) [±]
Written inC/C++/Python (desktop, using SIP and Qt frameworks), Objective-C (iOS), Java (Android)
Operating systemCross-platform
TypeInstant messaging client, VoIP
LicenseProprietary software
Websiteviber.com

Viber, or Rakuten Viber, is a cross-platform voice over IP (VoIP) and instant messaging (IM) software application owned by Japanese multinational company Rakuten, provided as freeware for the Google Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows, Apple macOS and Linux platforms.[3] Users are registered and identified through a cellular telephone number, although the service is accessible on desktop platforms without needing mobile connectivity.[3] In addition to instant messaging it allows users to exchange media such as images and video records, and also provides a paid international landline and mobile calling service called Viber Out.[4] As of 2018, there are over a billion registered users on the network.[5][6]

The software was developed in 2010 by Cyprus-based[7] Viber Media, which was bought by Rakuten in 2014. Since 2017, its corporate name has been Rakuten Viber. It is based in Luxembourg.[8] Viber's offices are located in London, Manila, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Singapore, and Tokyo.[9][10]

History[edit]

Viber logo 2017–2018

Founding[edit]

Viber was founded in 2010 to solve the problem of long-distance relationships. Co-founder Talmon Marco's girlfriend at the time was based in Hong Kong while he was living out in New York City.[11] Living apart but communicating all the time led to very expensive phone bills. Trying to overcome this issue, Marco turned to his friend Igor Magazinnik to find a solution.[11]

Viber Media was founded in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 2010 by Marco[12] and Magazinnik, who are friends from the Israel Defense Forces where they were chief information officers.[13] Marco and Magazinnik are also co-founders of the P2P media and file-sharing client iMesh.[14] The company was run from Israel, with much of its development outsourced to Belarus in order to lower labor costs.[13] It was registered in Cyprus. Sani Maroli and Ofer Smocha soon joined the company as well.[15][16][17][18][19][20] Marco commented that Viber allows instant calling and synchronization with contacts because the ID is the user's cell number, unlike Skype which is modeled after a "buddy list" requiring registration and a password.[21]

In the aftermath of brutal crackdown of opposition, led by the Belarusian authorities in 2020, the company closed its office in Minsk in August 2020.[10][22]

Monetisation[edit]

In its first two years of availability, Viber did not generate revenues. It began doing so in 2013, via user payments for Viber Out voice calling and the Viber graphical messaging "sticker store". The company was originally funded by individual investors, described by Marco as "friends and family".[23] They invested $20 million in the company, which had 120 employees as of May 2013.[24]

On 24 July 2013, Viber's support system was defaced by the Syrian Electronic Army. According to Viber, no sensitive user information was accessed.[25]

Acquisition[edit]

On 13 February 2014, Rakuten announced they had acquired Viber Media for $900 million.[26][27] The sale of Viber earned the Shabtai family (Benny, his brother Gilad, and Gilad's son Ofer) some $500 million from their 55.2% stake in the company.[28][29] At that sale price, the founders each realized over 30 times return on their investments.[16]

Djamel Agaoua became Viber Media CEO in February 2017, replacing co-founder Marco who left in 2015.[30]

In July 2017 the corporate name of Viber Media was changed to Rakuten Viber and a new wordmark logo was introduced.[31] Its legal name remains Viber Media, S.à r.l. based in Luxembourg.

Viber has been the official "communication channel" of F.C. Barcelona since Rakuten partnered with the football club in 2017.[32][33]

Partnerships[edit]

Golden State Warriors[edit]

In 2017, Viber launched one of two major sports collaborations, with the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.[34] The partnership included the launch of a chatbot with exclusive content as well as seasonal sticker packs available to all Viber users.

FC Barcelona[edit]

The second and largest global sports partnership also kicked off in 2017 with the Barcelona Football Club. As part of the ongoing partnership, the club maintains Communities in English, Spanish, Russian, and Arabic. All with over 1 million members.[35]

World Wide Fund[edit]

Viber and WWF first established their partnership in 2017, and ever since have been collaborating on seasonal projects, focusing on raising awareness and protecting wildlife.[36]

In 2021, with the launch of Viber lenses, WWF teamed up with Viber to create special edition lenses in time for Global Tiger Day. The lenses accompanied a special paid sticker pack.[37]

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent[edit]

After first collaborating with Viber in June 2020, the IFRC launched an official chatbot and Community on the messaging app to combat the spread of false information about COVID-19.[38] The chatbot is still active as of June 2022, with over 1.4 million subscribers.[39]

World Health Organization[edit]

Similar to IFRC, the WHO launched a dedicated chatbot to provide people accurate information for free on the spread of COVID-19 and how to prevent it.[40] The bot has over 1.4 million subscribers and is available in 23 languages.[41] This is on top of the ongoing partnership between the messaging app and WHO, which began in 2020 and has included a women’s health chatbot[42] and an anti-smoking campaign.[43]   

Market share[edit]

As of December 2016, Viber had 800 million registered users.[44] According to Statista, there are 260 million monthly active users as of January 2019.[45] The Viber messenger is very popular in Greece,[46] Eastern Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and some Asian markets.[47]

India was the largest market for Viber as of December 2014 with 33 million registered users, the fifth most popular instant messenger in the country. At the same time there were 30 million users in the United States, 28 million in Russia and 18 million in Brazil.[48] Viber is particularly popular in Eastern Europe, being the most downloaded messaging app on Android in Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine as of 2016. It is also popular in Iraq, Libya and Nepal.[49] As of 2018, Viber has an over 70 percent penetration rate in the CIS and CEE regions, but only 15 percent in North America.[50]

Russia[edit]

Viber is one of the more popular messenger applications in Russia.[51][52] In January 2016, Viber surpassed WhatsApp in Russia, with about 50 million users.[53] Viber was growing especially rapidly in urban areas like Moscow and St. Petersburg. In April 2016, the usage of Viber in Russia was twice higher than in 2015; it reached 66 million users.[54] By 2018, Viber had reached 100 million users in Russia. [55] Another report from 2017 showed that Russian IM users prefer to use Viber or WhatsApp over other services.[56] In Russia Viber plans to use the method of payment for shopping for goods and services.

Nikolay Nikiforov of the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media has declined to comment on the effect that law No. 241-FZ (which restricted use of some other encrypted chats such as Telegram) would have on Viber. [57]

Ukraine[edit]

In 2020, Viber Messenger was Ukraine's most popular IM; it was installed on 97% of all Ukrainian smartphones.[58]

APAC[edit]

Central Eastern Europe and Ukraine[edit]

Ukraine

As of September 2021, Viber is Ukraine’s most popular messaging app, with a market share of 97.7%. 20% of the company’s total messages sent came from Ukraine, where users sent 97.5 billion messages in 2021.[59]

Bulgaria

Viber’s market share in Bulgaria is steadily increasing. Reaching a record 90% in 2021. The number of calls made and messages sent via Viber in Bulgaria rose by 11% in 2021, reaching approximately 530 million calls and an average of 400 messages per second, according to data presented by the company.[60]

Greece

As of the end of 2021, over 90% of people in Greece have Viber on their phones, making it the top messaging app in the country,[61] reaching an all-time high of 1 billion calls made. The app saw a 20% and 15% increase in the number of calls made and messages sent, respectively.[62]

Serbia

Viber is also the top messenger in Serbia, with the country seeing a 12% increase in calls made, reaching 1.2 billion calls in 2021. As of November 2021, over 90% of Serbians have Viber on their phone, sending 1000 messages per second.[63]

Applications[edit]

Platforms[edit]

Viber 1.0 on iPhone

Viber was initially launched for iPhone on 2 December 2010, in direct competition with Skype. It was launched on BlackBerry and Windows Phone on 8 May 2012,[64] followed by the Android platform on 19 July 2012, and Nokia's Series 40, Symbian and Samsung's Bada platform on 24 July 2012, by which time the application had 90 million users.[65][66][67]

In May 2013 with Viber 3.0, a desktop version for Windows and macOS was released.[68] In August 2013, Viber for Linux was released as a public beta[69] and in August 2014 a final version.[70] In June 2016 a UWP-based desktop application for Windows 10 was released in the Windows Store.[71] The desktop versions are tied with a user's registered Viber mobile number, but can operate independently afterwards.[72] In 2015, a version for the iPad tablet and Apple Watch smartwatch was released.[73][74]

Features[edit]

Viber was originally launched as a VoIP application for voice calling. On 31 March 2011, Viber 2.0 was released which added instant messaging (IM) capabilities.[75] In July 2012 group messaging and an HD Voice engine were added to both Android and iOS applications.[76]Today, users can send several kinds of media files including photos, videos, GIFs, files, audio messages, and stickers.[77]

Stickers[edit]

In December 2012 Viber added 'stickers' to the application. In October 2013, Viber 4.0 was announced featuring a sticker 'market' where Viber would be selling stickers as a source of revenue.[78] In November 2020, ahead of Christmas, Viber ventured into licensing. Collaborating with SM Malls in the Philippines, its sticker characters were made into dolls, and decorated the malls throughout the country during the holiday season.[79]

Viber Out[edit]

In addition, version 4.0 introduced push-to-talk capabilities, and Viber Out, a feature that provides users the option to call mobile and landline numbers via VoIP without the need for the application.[80] Viber Out became temporarily free in the Philippines to help Typhoon Haiyan victims connect with their loved ones.[81]

Voice support was officially added for all Windows Phone 8 devices on 2 April 2013.[82] In September 2014, Viber 5.0 was released and introduced video calling.[83]

Public Accounts, Chatbots, and Communities[edit]

In November 2016, Viber version 6.5 launched Public Accounts to allow brands to engage in promotion and customer service on the platform, with initial partners including The Huffington Post, Yandex and The Weather Channel.[44][84] The app integrates with CRM software and offers chatbot APIs for customer service.[44] Viber Communities, an enhanced group chat feature, was introduced in February 2018.[85] Group calling was introduced with version 10 in February 2019.[86] Communities have an unlimited number of participants, compared to group chats that have a maximum of 250.[87] Viber communities are protective of their users' privacy since neither superadmins nor admins can see members’ phone numbers. Also, members who enable private messages can contact each other while keeping their numbers hidden.[88] In October 2020, Viber launched message statistics to go along with Community insights. These statistics offer Community admins the ability to see engagement levels with the content they post to their Communities.[89]

Today, many different kinds of chatbots are also available on the app, including those providing essential information,[90] quizzes,[91] and more.

Message Editing[edit]

In November 2018, Viber announced the launch of its message editing feature. This feature allows users to alter messages after they have been sent, with no time limit. After editing, the message has a small indication, showing it has been changed.[92]

Group Calls[edit]

Group calling was introduced with version 10 in February 2019.[93] During the Coronavirus pandemic, Viber introduced group video calling. The feature was announced in May 2020 with 20 participants.[94] The number of participants in video group calls was increased to 30 in April 2021 for version 15.2. As of Viber version 16.8, the maximum number of participants is 35.[95]

Version 15.2 also saw the launch of grid view on mobile devices, allowing video call participants to see six people on their screen at once.[96]

Disappearing Messages[edit]

Viber version 16 introduced  Disappearing Messages in group chats in October 2021,[97] equaling capabilities available in one-on-one chats since April 2020.[98] The feature allows users to send messages that disappear after 10 seconds, 1 minute, 1 hour, or 1 day. Disappearing Messages replaced the Secret Chats features first introduced in 2017.[99] In January 2022, for Viber 16.8, Disappearing Messages were introduced to Viber’s desktop app.[100]

Message Reactions[edit]

In August 2020, for Viber version 13.6, message reactions in group chats and Communities were introduced.[101] The feature allows users to react to messages with emojis without sending a message. The feature was expanded to one-on-one chats in January 2022.[102]

In Viber 13.8 Viber introduced the option of creating quizzes, on top of the existing poll option.[103]

Viber lenses[edit]

In June 2021, for version 15.5, Viber announced a partnership with Snap to integrate its camera kit into the messenger.[104] With this announcement, Viber introduced AR filters into the application, called Viber lenses.[105]

Viber’s long-time partners including FC Barcelona, WHO, and WWF collaborated with the messenger to create limited edition lenses for the launch of the feature worldwide.[106]  

Security[edit]

On 4 November 2014, Viber scored 1 out of 7 points on the Electronic Frontier Foundation's "Secure Messaging Scorecard". Viber received a point for encryption during transit but lost points because communications were not encrypted with keys that the provider did not have access to (i.e. the communications were not end-to-end encrypted), users could not verify contacts' identities, past messages were not secure if the encryption keys were stolen (i.e. the service did not provide forward secrecy), the code was not open to independent review (i.e. the code was not open-source), the security design was not properly documented, and there had not been a recent independent security audit.[107][108] On 14 November 2014, the EFF changed Viber's score to 2 out of 7 after it had received an external security audit from Ernst & Young's Advanced Security Centre.[107]

On 19 April 2016, with the announcement of Viber version 6.0,[109] Rakuten added end-to-end encryption to their service, but only for one-to-one and group conversations in which all participants are using the latest Viber version for Android, iOS, Windows (Win32) or Windows 10 (UWP).[110][111] The company said that the encryption protocol had only been audited internally, and promised to commission external audits "in the coming weeks".[112] In May 2016, Viber published an overview of their encryption protocol, saying that it is a custom implementation that "uses the same concepts" as the Signal Protocol.[113]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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