Viber
Original author(s)Talmon Marco
Igor Magazinnik
Developer(s)Rakuten Viber (part of Rakuten Inc.)
Initial release2010; 14 years ago (2010)
Stable release(s) [±]
Android20.4.3.0[1] Edit this on Wikidata / 2 July 2023; 9 months ago (2 July 2023)
iOS20.4.0[2] Edit this on Wikidata / 4 July 2023; 9 months ago (4 July 2023)
Windows20.2.0[3] Edit this on Wikidata / 12 June 2023; 10 months ago (12 June 2023)
macOS20.2.0[3] Edit this on Wikidata / 12 June 2023; 10 months ago (12 June 2023)
Linux20.3.0.1[4] Edit this on Wikidata / 14 June 2023; 10 months ago (14 June 2023)
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.[5] Users are registered and identified through a cellular telephone number, although the service is accessible on desktop platforms without needing mobile connectivity.[5] 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.[6] As of 2018, there are over a billion registered users on the network.[7][8]

The software was developed in 2010 by Cyprus-based[9] Viber Media, which was bought by Rakuten in 2014. Since 2017, its corporate name has been Rakuten Viber. It is based in Cyprus[10] with offices in London, Manila, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Singapore, and Tokyo.[11][12]

History

Viber logo 2017–2018

Founding (2010)

Viber Media was founded in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 2010 by Talmon Marco[13] and Igor Magazinnik.[14] Marco and Magazinnik are also co-founders of the P2P media and file-sharing client iMesh.[15] The company was run from Israel, and was registered in Cyprus. Sani Maroli and Ofer Smocha soon joined the company as well.[16][17][18][19][20][21] Marco commented that Viber allows instant calling and synchronization with contacts because the ID is the user's cell number.[22]

Early monetisation (2013)

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 market". 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]

Rakuten acquires Viber (2014)

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.[17]

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.

Post-acquisition

In 2017, Rakuten Viber and the World Wildlife Fund engaged in a commercial transaction aimed at raising awareness and protecting wildlife.[32]

After first using RV to spread its message in June 2020, the International Federation of the Red Cross launched an official chatbot and Community on the messaging app to combat the spread of false information, which they termed an infodemic, about COVID-19.[33] The chatbot is still active as of June 2022, with over 1.4 million subscribers.[34]

In 2020, Rakuten Viber and the World Health Organization (the WHO) engaged in a commercial transaction for a chatbot to inform users of issues such as women's health.[35] and an anti-smoking campaign.[36]

In the wake of the July–August 2020 Belarusian election protests and ensuing crackdown, the company closed its office in Minsk.[12][37]

In 2022, Rakuten Viber CEO became Ofir Eyal, replacing Djamel Agaoua.[38][39] Eyal is a Viber veteran, he worked as Vice President of Product in 2014 before his promotion to Chief Operating Officer in 2019.

In July 2022, Rakuten Viber partnered with Rapyd to launch instant cross-border P2P payments.[40][41] The company launched payments on the Viber app first in Greece and Germany, and then in other countries.[42][43]

In August, Mineski teamed up with Viber to develop a social minigame platform that can play off Viber’s application.[44]

In May 2022, Rakuten Viber launched the premium chat service Viber Plus that offer exclusive features, including sticker market privileges, ad free use, priority Viber support, exclusive badge, unique Viber icon, large file sharing, and more.[45]

Security audit

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.[46][47] 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.[46]

On 19 April 2016, with the announcement of Viber version 6.0,[48] Rakuten added end-to-end encryption to their service.[49][50] The company said that the encryption protocol had only been audited internally, and promised to commission external audits "in the coming weeks".[51] 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.[52]

In 2022, Rakuten Viber won a Security Award, by test.de, a tech firm based in Germany where there are over 3 million Viber users.[53][54]

Market share

As of December 2016, Viber had 800 million registered users.[55] According to Statista, there are 260 million monthly active users as of January 2019.[56] The Viber messenger is very popular in Greece,[57] Eastern Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and some Asian markets.[58]

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.[59] 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.[60]

As of 2018, Viber had an over 70 percent penetration rate in the CIS and CEE regions, but only 15 percent in North America.[61]

In 2022, Rakuten Viber revealed an overall increase in Viber's app users across Asia Pacific (APAC), with the Philippines recording a robust 22 percent increase.[62]

Russia

Viber is one of the more popular messenger applications in Russia.[63][64] In January 2016, Viber surpassed WhatsApp in Russia, with about 50 million users.[65]

A Moscow court fined Viber 1 million ruble, citing their failure to remove certain content Russia deems to be “illegal”, in particular content on the war in Ukraine.[66][67]

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.[68]

In February 2022, Rakuten Group removed advertising from its Viber messaging service in Ukraine and Russia in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.[69] At the same time, Hiroshi Mikitani, the founder of Rakuten Viber, donated $8.7 million to support Ukraine.[70]

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.[71]

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.[72] In 2022, the Municipality of Athens has launched an official Viber community to keep its citizens updated on city events, digital services, ongoing projects, proposals, activities for all ages, and stray animal information.[73][74]

Serbia

Viber is the top messenger in Serbia. As of November 2021, over 90% of Serbians have Viber on their phone.[75]

Applications

Platforms

Viber was initially launched for iPhone on 2 December 2010. It was launched on BlackBerry and Windows Phone on 8 May 2012,[76] 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.[77][78][79]

In May 2013 with Viber 3.0, a desktop version for Windows and macOS was released.[80] In August 2013, Viber for Linux was released as a public beta[81] and in August 2014 a final version.[82] In June 2016 a UWP-based desktop application for Windows 10 was released in the Windows Store.[83] The desktop versions are tied with a user's registered Viber mobile number, but can operate independently afterwards.[84] In 2015, a version for the iPad tablet and Apple Watch smartwatch was released.[85][86]

Features

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.[87] In July 2012 group messaging and an HD Voice engine were added to both Android and iOS applications.[88] Today, users can send several kinds of media files including photos, videos, GIFs, files, audio messages, and stickers.[89]

Stickers

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.[90]

Viber Out

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.[91]

Voice support was officially added for all Windows Phone 8 devices on 2 April 2013.[92] In September 2014, Viber 5.0 was released and introduced video calling.[93]

Public Accounts, Chatbots, and Communities

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.[55][94] The app integrates with CRM software and offers chatbot APIs for customer service.[55] Viber Communities, an enhanced group chat feature, was introduced in February 2018.[95] Group calling was introduced with version 10 in February 2019.[96] Communities have an unlimited number of participants, compared to group chats that have a maximum of 250.[97] 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.[98] 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.[99]

Today, many different kinds of chatbots are also available on the app, including those providing essential information,[100] quizzes,[101] and more.

In 2022, Rakuten Viber partnered with Taimi, LGBTQ+ dating app, to add a bot to its freeware ecosystem. The bot, powered by Viber, will have two functions. Firstly, to match members of its user base, and secondly, to serve as an educational resource for those who want to know more about the LGBTQ+ community.[102]

In January 2023, the company announced offerings such as a Business Inbox and a searchable Commercial Account. Business Inbox is a dedicated space for brand-user interactions, accessible directly from an individual’s regular Chats screen.[103] Commercial Account is a business account, where users will be able to discover all the ways to engage with a brand in just one place.[104][105]

In February, Rakuten Viber launched its chatbot AI Chat & Create, which allows users to ask questions and design images directly through the Viber app.[106]

In July, Viber partnered with ICONIQ to bring users to connect with an AI robot companion Kuki. With its integration into Viber, users can chat and interact with Kuki directly on the app.[107][108]

Viber Plus

In May 2023, Viber Plus was launched internationally, including enhancements to the app like access to paid stickers, the ability to change the Viber app icon and customer service access over live chat.[109]

In August 2023, the company released two Viber Plus features for iOS users: Invisible Mode and Read Voice Messages. Read Voice Message feature turns voice messages into text, so any message can be ready anytime. Invisible Mode allows users to privately read messages and browse on the platform.[110]

Payments solution in Viber

In April 2023, Rakuten Viber launched Payments on Viber, a real-time account-to-account (A2A) money transfer service in Cyprus.[111] Viber Pay enables direct and free transactions between Greece, Germany, and Cyprus, and Cyprus-based users can send money to each other in an easy and secure manner by creating a digital wallet through a two-minute process that requires registration and email confirmation.[112]

Caller ID

In April, Rakuten added the Caller ID feature, which helps identify any call after being turned on along with a warning for possible spam, including for calls that aren't being made through Viber.[113]

Viber Business Accounts

In October 2023, Viber announced a new set of business tools for small and medium-sized businesses.[114][115] Viber Business Accounts is a platform for businesses to create public profiles, enabling them to share information and product catalogs directly within the app. Additionally, the service features a 1:1 instant messaging function for customer inquiries, discoverability through app search functions, and dedicated chat folders for organizational purposes.[116]

See also

References

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