The war of messengers: why in Ukraine won Viber

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

The ranking was taken by the Viber messenger, which wonpopular love among users: according to a research agency, the application is installed on 96.2% of smartphones. Messenger is significantly ahead of its competitors - applications with other functions (Chrome and YouTube) are breathing in its back, but other applications for sending messages - Facebook Messenger, Telegram and WhatsApp - are noticeably lagging behind. How did Ukraine end up on the small list of countries where the purple messenger dominates and what preceded this?

</ img>

Skype, popular a few years agofinally lost ground and dropped out of the TOP-15 list. However, the decline in popularity of Skype is a global trend. To date, Viber has gained leadership in a dozen countries. According to statistics from the Similar Web website, which earlier this year published an interactive map of the popularity of instant messengers by country, Viber is the main method of communication in Ukraine, Belarus, several countries of South-Eastern Europe, as well as Tajikistan and Armenia.

</ img>


Why did Viber win the loyalty of Ukrainian users?

Viber appeared in 2010, a year afterWhatsApp, and first appeared for the iPhone. This was the beginning of a new era of online calling applications tied to the subscriber's mobile number, but using Wi-Fi or mobile Internet for connection. Ten years ago, such a solution was a breakthrough in the communications industry and an opportunity for users to break out of the “tyranny” of mobile operators: to call abroad or home from trips abroad not at high roaming rates, but, in fact, for free.

</ img>

WhatsApp also developed at the same time as Viber, butViber earlier released a client version for Android, marking the beginning of a victory over its competitor in Ukraine, where the market is dominated by smartphones with an operating system created by Google. According to LEAD9 Mobile Marketing as of March 2018, 70% of users access the messenger from Android smartphones. A few years earlier, in 2013, Viber won the “battle”, beating WhatsApp in releasing the desktop version and being the first to enter the cross-platform format.

At first another serious competitor to Viberthere was Skype. Initially, Skype was only for computers and laptops. The Skype application itself for Android was released simultaneously with the appearance of Viber on the market. But the latter had the advantage of being linked to a phone number - a convenient unique identifier. In 2011, the brand was bought by Microsoft Corporation. The company decided to refocus the once popular application on the corporate segment. This brought about many changes. According to the users themselves, “each subsequent version was worse than the previous one.” Both the desktop client and the mobile application consumed too many operating resources, problems arose with synchronizing messages, the program periodically froze, and the connection was lost. As a result, Skype began to rapidly lose its audience, and most of the users left for 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.

</ img>

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.

During the same period, the audience actively grewInstagram. 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 back in 2011, it did not enjoy mass demand for a long time. It wasn't until the company disabled the ability to send messages from the main app in 2014 that users started installing Facebook Messenger in droves.

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

In 2017, Ukrainian providers blockedaccess to Russian resources, including Russian social networks. This could not but affect the landscape of the mobile industry. According to TNS, already on the third day after the blocking, the reach of Facebook and its messenger Facebook Messenger, as well as Telegram and Viber, significantly increased. It is quite understandable - Ukrainian users rushed to search for alternative ways to maintain communication with loved ones 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 the widespread and constantexpanding functionality as well as privacy. Viber is often the first to introduce technical innovations that later launch other messaging apps.

File transfer function, community,all kinds of add-ons for chats - the messenger offers the user various services in one place, at a distance of “one button”. The company says that Viber’s immediate plans include creating a marketplace for third-party companies “inside” the application. This option will be a logical integration into Viber of the services of the parent company Rakuten, an Internet commerce giant 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 safety and security of correspondence. The end-to-end encryption protocol was introduced into the messenger back in 2016. It means thatthe company cannot read user messages, listen in on conversations or scan photos. Becauseall 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.

</ img>

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.

</ img>

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.