Japan's Rakuten acquires Viber messaging app for $900 million

By on February 14, 2014, 11:30 AM
japan, viber, rakuten, mobile messaging

As mobile messaging apps continue their rapid rise in popularity, Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten has announced plans to buy its way into the action by gobbling up Viber for around $900 million in cash. The deal should add over 300 million users to Rakuten's existing 200 million users according to reports.

Viber is one of the top five most downloaded mobile communication apps, with the US, Russia and Australia among its biggest markets. By comparison, current mobile messaging leader WhatsApp has more than 400 million monthly users worldwide, while Skype counts around 300 million and Line recently passed the 350 million mark -- 50 million of those in Rakuten’s home market, making it perhaps its most important competitor.

The app offers a comprehensive feature set, including text messaging, group chats, hold to talk voice messaging, free voice and video calls between Viber users, as well as low cost calls to regular phones. The company also launched Windows and OS X clients last year on top of supporting all major mobile platforms.

Part of Rakuten’s plan is to link up messaging with its e-commerce properties -- the world’s sixth largest in the world by sales. Speaking at a news conference in Tokyo, CEO Hiroshi Mikitani said, “e-commerce will become a more communication-based transaction. Live interaction is going to be critical for all Internet services.”

The acquisition is expected to close by the end of March.




User Comments: 3

Got something to say? Post a comment
Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

"The app offers a comprehensive feature set, including text messaging, group chats, hold to talk voice messaging, free voice and video calls between Viber users, as well as low cost calls to regular phones"

So essentially everything I can already do with the standard feature set included on my phone and monthly plan. I'm going to assume the last couple of features use data hence the "low cost call to regular phones" Or you can just use your phone as it was intended to be used, as a phone to make calls which your plan should already cover... Is this just an obsession I don't have, the need to have redundant apps, especially those linked to sites that sell discount merchandise.

"Live interaction is going to be critical for all Internet services"

I was under the impression it already was implemented, most sites have a 1-800 number you can call at anytime or even messaging support, just a little behind the times on that one. Also shouldn't there be concerns of tracking and forced advertisement now that an e-commerce site has acquire a rather large base of users.

H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

"The app offers a comprehensive feature set, including text messaging, group chats, hold to talk voice messaging, free voice and video calls between Viber users, as well as low cost calls to regular phones"

So essentially everything I can already do with the standard feature set included on my phone and monthly plan. I'm going to assume the last couple of features use data hence the "low cost call to regular phones" Or you can just use your phone as it was intended to be used, as a phone to make calls which your plan should already cover... Is this just an obsession I don't have, the need to have redundant apps, especially those linked to sites that sell discount merchandise.

"Live interaction is going to be critical for all Internet services"

I was under the impression it already was implemented, most sites have a 1-800 number you can call at anytime or even messaging support, just a little behind the times on that one. Also shouldn't there be concerns of tracking and forced advertisement now that an e-commerce site has acquire a rather large base of users.

Calling international. Goodluck getting ripped off through the roof with your standard feature. This, Skype or any other similar app makes it easier to get in contact with your family, friends or other beings across the world rather than paying the mobile fees when calling abroad.

Not a fan of this app but it has its uses.

1 person liked this | misor misor said:

I sometimes use viber for free calls/texts thru wifi internet. when some calamities (typhoon and earthquake) struck the philippines last year resulting in mobile communications disruptions, viber's usefulness become apparent. free viber service was supplemented with viber offering its premium service for free for a few days.

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.