Viber and its Future
Since Viber was first introduced in 2010 for use on iPhones, the app has become extremely popular and now boasts over 200 million users worldwide. Viber users are now able to install the software on a number of systems and devices, including Android, Mac OS, Windows Phone, Blackberry OS and several others. The app successfully went head to head with Skype and offers not only free texting and calling worldwide, but also the ability to share images and multimedia content. There are now, of course, several smartphone apps offering similar capabilities, such as WhatsApp, MessageMe and others, but Viber remains among the leaders in the field.
As with other free app and software providers, eventually a company like Viber Media needs to see a return on its investment, and so Viber has recently announced that introduction of stickers which will soon be available for purchase at a Viber “Sticker Market”. Viber has been offering free stickers for some time now, but there will be a new batch of stickers available that will cost money and which will either be original stickers the company creates or art and images licensed from other sources, such as television shows, branded characters from movies and recording artists. This is not a surprising move, considering that many of Viber’s competitors are already offering paid stickers in an effort to generate revenue.
The sale and use of stickers is becoming increasingly popular - a case in point are the stickers recently introduced by Snoopify, the phone app from Snoop Lion (the artist formerly known as Snoop Dog). Snoopify allows users to stamp their photos with Snoop-related stickers. Snoopify has just launched a “Golden Jay” sticker at the rather jaw-dropping price of $99.99 -
the Golden Jay is a depiction of a marijuana joint which smokes and sparkles. Surprisingly enough, even to its creators, the Golden Jay was an immediate success, with sales of $1500 within the first week.
Stickers and More?
If Snoopify’s Golden Jay success is any indicator, then Viber is likely to have made a smart move by entering the paid sticker market. At this point however, Viber is remaining tight-lipped about what brands it will be cooperating with and how revenues will be split with them. It is expected that Viber will also introduce other paid features eventually, some are speculating that perhaps the company will begin selling added features to its free doodle function.
What’s Not to Love About Viber?
As popular as it is with millions around the world, Viber (and other apps like it) does have its detractors. Some parents are worried that their kids are spending too much of their time chatting online, and some are concerned about the dangers posed by bullies and online predators. Many concerned parents have turned to smartphone spy apps, such as mSpy, which enable parents to keep an eye on who their children are chatting with, what kind of content is being shared and exactly how much time they are spending online. Another concern with these types of apps is national security and the potential of their use for anti-government activities and terrorism. Pakistan’s Sindh Province has just introduced a three month ban against several Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) apps, including Viber, Whatsapp, Skype and Tango. The Sindh government, which had earlier also banned the use of YouTube, is concerned that these platforms are being used by “terrorists and criminal elements”.
Viber Marches On
Despite the parental and governmental backlash against apps such as Viber, the popularity of them continues to grow seemingly unabated. These apps offer too many positive benefits to be seriously challenged on a global scale, and Viber seems to be moving from strength to strength in maintaining its share of the market. Like it or not, the use of apps such as Viber is likely to become even more common in the coming years. However, it is perhaps understandable why this technology appears threatening to some - especially to telecom providers who have lost out to the companies offering these useful apps at no charge - very few people are willing to pay anymore for a service they can get for free.