Rakuten is the biggest online retailer in Japan, akin to Amazon within the western world. Viber is, likewise, one of the biggest app creators across the globe, dealing mostly with message sending and call applications.
Despite their popularity, Viber has been experience severe losses in profits for the last year, and their latest earnings report back in December showed a staggering $29.5 million drop. The choice to sell isn’t a surprise, nor is the relatively low price tag for a company that holds more than 300 million users. Users that will be transferred right into Rakuten’s network.
Hiroshi Mikitani, the CEO of Rakuten, is enthusiastic about the deal.
I am tremendously excited to welcome Viber to the Rakuten family. Viber delivers the most consistently high quality and convenient messaging and VoIP experience available. Additionally, Viber has introduced a great sticker market and has tremendous potential as a gaming platform. Simply put, Viber understands how people actually want to engage and have built the only service that truly delivers on all fronts. This makes Viber the ideal total consumer engagement platform for Rakuten as we seek to bring our deep understanding of the consumer to vast new audiences through our dynamic ecosystem of Internet Services.
Most interesting from that statement is his suggestion of Viber’s potential as a “gaming platform”. I am sure I am not the only one interested to see what it made of that, especially since the app maker is not an exclusive business within one country. With its wider global appeal, that could mean products filtered into the west.
So far, it isn’t clear what strategies they might have in mind for the gaming world. Viber is best known for messaging apps, especially their Skype-competitor application that lets users call mobile phones that don’t have Viber apps installed.
Their multi-platform compatibility is a major plus, and could provide a lot of potential for future products that go beyond singular brands. That is a major concern for companies even now, as more make the leap to break through the barriers of third party app permissions.