The war of messengers: why in Ukraine won Viber

In early 2019, TNS published statistics on the use of mobile applications by Ukrainians. First place

ranking was taken by the Viber messenger who wonnational love of users: according to a research agency, the application is installed on 96.2% of smartphones. The messenger is far ahead of its competitors - applications with other functions (Chrome and YouTube) breathe into its back, but the rest of the messaging apps - Facebook Messenger, Telegram and WhatsApp - are noticeably behind. How did Ukraine find itself in the small list of countries dominated by the purple messenger and what preceded it?

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Popular a few years ago SkypeI finally lost the position and dropped out of the TOP-15 list. However, the fall in popularity of Skype is a global trend. To date, Viber has won the leadership in a dozen countries. According to statistics from the site Similar Web, which at the beginning of this year published an interactive map of the popularity of instant messengers by country, Viber is the main way to communicate in Ukraine, Belarus, several states of South-Eastern Europe, as well as Tajikistan and Armenia.

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Why did Viber win the loyalty of Ukrainian users?

Viber appeared in 2010, a year afterWhatsApp, and first appeared for the iPhone. It was the beginning of a new era of applications for online calls, tied to the subscriber’s mobile number, but using Wi-Fi or mobile Internet to connect. Ten years ago, this decision was a breakthrough in the communications industry and an opportunity for users to escape from the “tyranny” of mobile operators: to call abroad or home from foreign travel not at high roaming tariffs, but, in fact, for free.

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Simultaneously with Viber, WhatsApp was also developing, butViber has previously released a client version for Android, marking the beginning of a victory over a competitor in Ukraine, where smartphones with an operating system created by Google are leading in the market. According to the company LEAD9 Mobile Marketing for March 2018, 70% of users access the messenger from Android-based smartphones. A few years earlier, in 2013, Viber will win the “battle”, ahead of WhatsApp in the release of the desktop version and the first to enter the cross-platform format.

At first, another serious competitor to Viberwas skype. Initially, Skype was only for computers and laptops. The Skype app for Android itself came out simultaneously with the advent of Viber on the market. But the latter had an advantage - binding to a telephone number - a convenient unique identifier. In 2011, the brand was bought by Microsoft. The company decided to reorient the once popular application to the corporate segment. This entailed many changes. According to the users themselves, “each next version was worse than the previous one.” Both the desktop client and the mobile application ate too many operating resources, there were problems with the synchronization of messages, the program periodically hung, the connection was broken. As a result, Skype began to rapidly lose its audience, and most users went to Viber.

Viber at that time was developing rapidly. Only in 2013, a desktop client, stickers, Viber Out service appeared - the ability to call from any client to a cellular or landline subscriber number on a prepaid basis, which was previously provided only by Skype.

In 2014, Viber became part of the Japanese company Rakuten. And then, in August, one of the most popular functions for today was added - video calls from a smartphone.

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Constant and advanced competitors extension functionality - one of the greatest strengths of Viber. For example, the ability to make calls appeared in WhatsApp only in 2015.

In the same period, the audience grew actively.Instagram. Social networks Facebook and Vkontakte, which also developed messengers on their platforms, did not lag behind. And although Facebook launched its chat as a separate mobile application as early as 2011, it did not enjoy mass demand for a long time. Only after the company turned off the ability to send messages from the main application in 2014, users began to install Facebook Messenger en masse.

Since 2015, Facebook Messenger has becomeA standalone application that can be used by registering by phone number. However, its audience consisted mainly of users of their own social network. Those who did not have a Facebook account (or only “formally”) chose alternative instant messengers (usually Viber or WhatsApp), or communicated in other social networks.

In 2017, Ukrainian providers blockedaccess to Russian resources, including Russian social networks. This could not affect the landscape of the mobile industry. According to TNS, on the third day after the blocking, the coverage of Facebook and its messenger Facebook Messenger, as well as Telegram and Viber, significantly increased. It is quite understandable - Ukrainian users rushed to find alternative ways to maintain communication with family and friends (including those living in the CIS countries, where Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki are massively popular).

This factor has played a significant role in the victory.Viber in Ukraine. According to the Viber press service, in 2017 its Ukrainian audience rapidly grew by 50%. The number of audio and video calls of Ukrainian users was 1 billion, which is two times more than in 2016.

Why, with such a variety of messengers, Viber began to dominate?

The obvious reason is wide and constantlyexpanding functionality as well as privacy. Viber is often the first to introduce technical innovations that later launch other messaging applications.

File transfer feature, community,all kinds of add-ons for chat rooms - the messenger offers the user different services in one place, at a distance of “one button”. The company says that in the near future Viber plans to create a trading platform for third-party companies “inside” the application. This option will be a logical integration into Viber of the services of the parent company Rakuten - the giant of Internet commerce in Japan.

According to Konstantin Kostadinov, director ofViber sales in Central and Eastern Europe, its success Viber is also obliged to verified strategy of monetization in collaboration with partners and customers. Branded stickerpairs, business messages, brand communities are an effective and therefore sought-after channel of business communication with the target audience. Cooperation with the business helps Viber to attract funds for the development of the project, minimally resorting to user monetization. Viber Out (calls to landline and mobile numbers), local Viber number and some stickpacks - so far all the paid services of the messenger. In general, for an ordinary user, Viber has always been and will be (as the company says) free of charge.

Another important nuance is the security and security of correspondence. End-to-end encryption protocol was introduced into the messenger in 2016. It means that the company cannot read user messages, listen in on conversations or scan photos. Because all messages are encoded, and only the sender and recipient have decryption keys, and no one else can access them. End-to-end encryption is enabled by default for all personal and group chats and calls.

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In addition to end-to-end encryption, there are other functions in Viber that ensure the security of communication:

  • for children from 13 to 16 years old by defaultuses the highest level of security. The data of these users cannot be used for targeted services, including advertising. Their names and profile photos will not be displayed in chat bots.
  • hidden and secret chats
  • the ability to hide your network status or delete the sent message, including on the recipient's device.

After the jump in popularity two years ago, Viber continues to confidently gain a rating.

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It is logical that upon reaching a certain thresholdthe number of users begins to grow exponentially - people tend to use the application for communication that uses more friends and acquaintances. Apparently, that is why even the notorious chats of the parent committees or the OSBB, as a rule, “live” in Viber. At some point, the question “Do you have a Viber?” Became rhetorical. Viber today is at all.