Let me start with, I work at Phone.com, they offer consumer but mostly business phone services for small and medium size businesses. Viber is a consumer grade product and is in very little or no way in conflict with Phone.com.
Now that that’s out of the way…
When is Apple going to purchase Viber for a medium size fortune. Viber is a free service that allows its users the ability to make/receive voice calls and send/receive SMS with other Viber subscribers. It was all the rage about 2 years ago and is still extreamealy popular to this day. It is nothing new or unique in its feature set but it is pretty to look at and easy to use. My Mom went overseas to visit my sister a few months ago and she was calling and texting us from it on her iPhone constantly.
What I think should peak Apple’s interest is the free calls to other Viber users. iOS 5 and above already supports iMessage which allows customers to send free SMS to any other iMessage user, any where in the world. But Apple hasn’t crossed the voice threshold yet. It would be a direct strike at every single mobile carrier that sells iPhones around the world. That’s a lot of companies to piss off and your biggest clients. Apple can’t match the selling power of telco retail stores around the world to its puny number of Apple retail outlets.
That aside, if Apple purchased Viber they could let it stand the way it is now and only upgrade and update Vibers voice for Windows Phone and Blackberry because they haven’t been blessed yet with Viber voice. Migrate it to iOS and then allow iOS customers around the world to talk to each other for free… It might need to be over wifi but most of my calls and many other peoples calls are made at home, in their offices or at a restaurant etc with wifi. Apple would suddenly own a huge portion of the consumer voice market and SMS market. Imagine calling that cousin in another country or your best friend on vacation out of the country and seeing iVoice at the top of the calling screen or next to their name and knowing you can call them for FREE. Or when you may be out of the country and want to call home to your spouse and not be scared to death of the roaming fees you might incur. If you both have iVoice it would be free.
I realize there is a lot of back end and behind the scenes juggling and a lot of connecting blue wires to red wires for this kind of thing to happen but with over $100billion in the bank, I get the feeling Apple could make this happen.
iOS is great but I got lured away for an entire week to Android. The biggest reason I went back to iOS is because of iMessage. My parents don’t have a texting plan but they have recently learned to iMessage with me. I don’t want that to stop and I don’t want them to have to go to Viber to send me a free text. I need to keep it simple for them. Additionally my sister is about to get a shiny new iPhone when she changes her service over and I want to be able to send free text messages to her. Viber allows me to do this but iOS 5 has it built in as a core function, no downloading apps, no thinking what service do I want to use to SMS my parents or sister. If Apple bought Viber and voice calls to other iOS customers became free I think they would demolish any and all competition until they got their own Viber.
Maybe this is a little far fetched or maybe Viber has already been approached by Apple I don’t know. All I do know is is that there’s a dam good oppourtunity for Apple to rule another front of the mobile world and I’d be happy to use their service. I just hope Viber would make sure they can keep the support for Android up and complete their work on getting voice to Windows phones as well as Blackberry. I hope they wouldn’t sell out to Apple without those stipulations.
What do you think? Should Apple buy Viber? Should Google for that matter??? Why not Google? I only use Apple as my example because I’m currently using an iPhone. Though I carry an AT&T Samsung Galaxy S 3 with me all the time and will probably go back to using it again when I get fed up with iOS.