Helped by India, Viber eyes 500 mn users; launches public chat

Helped by India, Viber eyes 500 mn users; launches public chat

Helped by India, Viber eyes 500 mn users; launches public chat

Bouyed by strong growth in India and Russia, instant messaging app Viber today said it expects to hit the 500 million userbase by the end of this year.

India already has Viber's largest user base with 33 million people and is among the top 5 revenue generators for the company, which launched 'public chats' service today that allows users to interact with communities and celebrities on their smartphones.

"India is our largest userbase, we have 33 million users here, followed closely by America (30 million) and Russia (28 million). Globally, we have grown from 280 million in December last year to over 460 million now. By year-end, we should be at the 500 million mark," Viber Chief Marketing Officer Mark Hardy told PTI.

Viber's closest competitor is WhatsApp with over 500 million users (announced in April this year). It was acquired by social networking giant Facebook in a USD 19 billion deal.

Viber itself was acquired by Japan's Rakuten for USD 900 million in February this year. Its competitors include apps like LINE, Hike and Nimbuzz.

"India is growing at a phenomenal pace for us. A year ago, we had about 15 million users here. Earlier this year, we did a TV and digital campaign, which has worked well for us. We expect to continue this growth trajectory as we launch newer products to keep users engaged," Hardy said.

The firm is looking at bringing in games and more local content on its platform, he added.

On the public chats service, Viber Country Head-India Anubhav Nayyar said: "They can tap into live conversations as they happen. Users can also invite friends to follow the Public Chats that interest them, and can share content of the celebrities with their friends."

Globally, Viber has 311 such chat partners and 56 in India. These include a broad range of celebrities, brands and personalities.

In India, Viber has on board Anushka Sharma, Ranveer Singh, Arjun Kapoor, Shaan, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Saina Nehwal.