NEW DELHI, INDIA: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has decided against a proposal of carriers to charge customers for using popular messaging services like WhatsApp, Viber, Skype and others. The carriers had proposed to make companies that offer these popular services share part of their revenue with them or the government. The Trai has also shelved plans to initiate a consultation process as it feels that operators are able to offset their losses through growth in data revenue.
Rakuten (TYO:4755), the Japanese ecommerce conglomerate, held an earnings call today that contained some huge Viber news amidst a sea of big profit announcements. In case there were any doubts, the company’s strong position in the Japanese economy was as apparent as ever – about US$1.38 billion in revenue and US$222 million in operating income for the firm’s second quarter of 2014. Even more impressively, Rakuten was able to show that analysis of its ecommerce data can be used to accurately predict the Japanese government’s own statistical assessments of Japan’s economic health.
Viber is claiming an early lead ahead of all its messaging app rivals in the newly opened up country of Myanmar. Viber said today that it now has five million registered users in Myanmar. “The growth rate is exceptional and we are thrilled that Myanmar mobile users have joined the Viber family,” said Talmon Marco, Viber’s CEO in an announcement. It comes a day after Marco appeared by video link (using Viber?) at a company event in Yangon, the former capital that remains Myanmar’s cultural hub.
Half of Myanmar’s mobile internet users came online during the past 12 months, according to a major survey in the newly emerging nation. 49 percent of all the country’s web users only access the web on their phones. That means the people of Myanmar are skipping the era of PCs entirely. They’re also sidestepping basic ‘feature phones’ and are instead leaping straight into Android smartphones. The survey from On Device Research, which questioned people and also monitored the device they’re using, found that China’s Huawei is the number one phone brand in Myanmar with 71 percent of respondents using an Android-powered Huawei smartphone.
One month after VNG, the developer of Zalo, announced that Zalo had attracted10 million users, BKAV, known as an Internet security service provider, stirred up the public when it introduced its own OTT app, Btalk. Deputy Chair of BKAV, Nguyen Tu Hoang, at the Btalk launching ceremony, said that the mission of the OTT app is to replace Viber in Vietnam and reach out to the world market in the near future.
Last month, Rakuten (JSD:4755) acquired Viber messaging app in a $900 million deal as the Japanese ecommerce titan tries to diversify and be more social. Today, Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani spoke out for the first time about the app, telling Bloomberg that “Viber is one of the most important projects for us.”
The Wall Street Journal has reported that Rakuten, the Japanese e-commerce firm, will purchase Viber, the Cyprus-based mobile messaging startup for $900 million. The purchase marks a major development for both companies. Rakuten hails from an e-commerce legacy, but in recent years has sought to reach into new verticals. In late 2011 it purchased the team behind Canadian e-book reader Kobo for $315 million, and six months later invested $100 million in US-based social network Pinterest. Viber, meanwhile, was founded in 2010 and funded entirely by money from iMesh, the founders’ previous venture.
Earlier today, the popular messaging app Viber revealed it has been acquired by Rakuten, the Japanese e-commerce titan. The $900 million deal has just been confirmed by Rakuten (JSD:4755), which means the publicly-listed company has had to divulge some interesting numbers related to Viber. Now we know that Viber has over 100 million monthly active users from its 280 million global registered users. We’ve been haranguing messaging apps and other social media to man up and tell us how many active users they have, so it’s good to have this useful metric for one of the world’s top messaging apps.