Viber or Rakuten Viber is a cross-platform instant messaging and voice over internet protocol software application from Japanese tech conglomerate Rakuten Group. It was first developed and released in 2010 by the now-acquired Viber Media and has since become one of the most popular instant messaging apps in certain European, Asian, and Middle Eastern markets. The app primarily competes against Messenger and WhatsApp from Meta Platforms, Telegram Messenger, Google Chat from Google, and FaceTime from Apple.
Pros: Advantages of Viber and Notable Features
1. Freeware Cross-Platform Messaging App
The app is a freeware that is available on Windows and macOS desktop operating systems, the Linux platform, and iOS and Android mobile operating systems. This means that a user can access the service and his or her contacts, messages, and other relevant data regardless of the device he or she is using as long as the app is already installed. This also increases the appeal and market reach potential of the app and its communication services.
2. Straightforward Set Up and Sign Up
A first-time user does not need to register to start using this communication platform. He or she needs to enter his or her mobile number to receive a six-digit code or a phone call for verification purposes. There is no need to create a username, enter an email address, and provide a password in the setup process. The app also reads through the contact list of the device and copies or integrates all contacts that also use the platform in its own contact list.
3. Individual and Group Chat, Calls, and Video
The app is primarily an instant messaging platform but also has other communication features. These include one-on-one calls and video chats, and group chats, calls, and video chats. A single group chat can have up to 250 participants and a user can start a group video chat with up to 20 participants. This is a simpler and cost-effective alternative to video conferencing platforms such as Zoom Video Communications, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams.
4. Encryption, Viber Out, and File Sharing
Other notable capabilities and features of Viber include end-to-end encryption for secure and private communication, the Viber Out feature for making cheap calls to mobile or landline numbers of non-Viber users, and sharing of documents of various file formats and multimedia files such as images and videos. The app is also known for its expressive graphical elements that can be shared with recipients. These are called Stickers.
Cons: Disadvantages of Viber and Main Issues
1. Relative Call and Video Chat Quality
The call and video chat quality is decent in most cases. However, in several situations, and based on several reports and user-provided feedback from different regional or geographic markets, the quality tends to be inconsistent. Specific reported quality-related issues include poor sound quality that can be unintelligible and static-laden, unstable connection, poor video quality, and high battery consumption during call or video chat sessions.
2. Limited Market Reach and User Base
Another disadvantage of Viber is that it is not as popular in certain geographic markets such as the United States, unlike Messenger and WhatsApp from Meta Platforms. Its user base has also shrunk elsewhere. The popularity of Messenger and FaceTime has decreased the appeal of this communication platform. It is also important to note that its features are also considered limited when compared to other platforms and communication services.
3. Key Capabilities and Features Limitations
The number of participants for a group chat is limited to 250. This is considered few when compared to Telegram Messenger which can host up to 200000 participants in a single group chat. The 20-person limit of the group video chat feature makes it incomparable to dedicated apps and platforms for video conferencing. This makes it unideal in certain applications such as in virtual business meetings and large internal communication.
4. Relatively Cluttered User Interface
Some users might find the entire user interface of this instant messaging app a bit cluttered or disorganized because of the presence of different clickable elements and sub-spaces. There is a separate inbox for companies or brands with their own “channels” and there are separate spaces and areas for the Sticker market, special offers, and the internal app ecosystem. Some users might also find digital ads as intrusive and irrelevant.
Takeaway: Pros and Cons of Viber
Viber is a capable instant messaging and voice over internet protocol platform. However, because of the presence of other apps and platforms such as Messenger and Telegram, as well as dedicated video conferencing platforms such as Zoom and Google Meet, it does not provide a strong selling proposition for attracting new users and keeping existing ones. The limitations in group communication features such as group calls and group video chat also limit its use case within personal communication and small groups.