HA NOI (VNS)— A recent update to the Vietnamese version of popular phone-app Viber would not directly impact local OTTS (Over the Top Content) mobile platforms like Zalo, Kakao Talk and Line, industry insiders predicted.
On May 7, Viber updated its 3.0 version for iOS and Android, meaning the programme's language settings can now be automatically changed to align with those of the mobile device.
The Viber app, which is free, works like Skype and enables smart phone users to exchange messages and voice calls for no charge.
A representative of VTC Online, which is now co-operating with Kakao Corp to develop Kakao Talk, said VTC had never considered Viber a direct rival to Kakao Talk.
While Viber is defined as an app used to make calls and messages free of charge, Kakao Talk is a mobile platform aiming to build up as many apps as possible to attract more users, he said.
However, Kakao Talk still has every reason to be confident of its success in Viet Nam. Viber has enjoyed spontaneous penetration of the Vietnamese market, but is yet to set up a regional office or carry out product promotion.
Vuong Quang Khai, Deputy CEO of VNG, added that VNG also doesn't consider Viber a direct rival to Zalo, because Viber focuses on communication, while Zalo, like Line and Kakao Talk, focuses on building a mobile platform which allows the integration of added value services and social networks.
As such, Viber's upgrade will cement its Number 1 position among the OTT apps which enable free calls and messages over the Internet.
The app enjoys a wide range of customers, from high school and university students to middle-aged people. Meanwhile, Zalo, Line and Kakao Talk will compete in upgrading the features and apps on their systems.
Not just attracting users with the language patch and picture messaging, Viber has also introduced a version for Windows and Mac computer operating systems.
The computer version boasts similar features to its smart phone cousin, including messaging and calling. In addition, the PC version allows free calls from computer to computer when both are installed with Viber, and from computer to mobile phone.
Users have also noted improvements in service quality. When starting conversations, users now just need to press one button to forward the call to PCs or vice versa.
Talmon Marco, Director of Viber, said though the number of Viber users in Viet Nam remains modest, accounting for just 2 per cent of total users, Viber can still see great potential in the market due to the rapid increase in new users, currently 500,000 each month.
By early April, Viber reportedly had four million users in Viet Nam. If the pattern of new users continues, the firm hopes to be nearing the 10 million user mark by the end of 2013. — VNS