Japanese ecommerce and Internet giant Rakuten will acquire Viber, the cross-platform messaging service, for $900 million.
Viber is one of the top popular cross-platform chat apps along with the likes of Skype, Whatsapp, Line, and WeChat, a group of services that together have a combined user base in the billions. With platforms like Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, and BlackBerry Messenger taken into account, it’s clear that the world’s appetite for communication leaves plenty of room for several big players to co-exist.
Rakuten is a large Internet player in Japan, but the company has ambitious plans to extend internationally and become “the world’s No.1 internet services company.” In addition to other smaller ventures, Rakuten bought e-reader maker Kobo in January 2012 and lead an investment of $100 million in the fast growing social network Pinterest.
The $900 million Viber deal will complete in March, and will bring Rakuten access to a platform used monthly by more than 225 million users in 193 countries. Viber has witnessed especially strong growth in the United States and the Middle East, but it’s still behind some of its competitors in terms of number of users. Whatsapp has 400 million users, Skype 300 million, while the biggest competitor of all – albeit little known outside China – is probably QQ, which had a staggering 816 million monthly users in September.
One advantage that Viber has over some of its competitors it’s the availability on PCs running Windows, OSX, and even Linux.
What messaging platform do you use the most?