VoIP provider Viber is attacking 2014 with an aggressive plan to increase subscribers and hopefully begin to turn a profit. It started with the December announcement of low-cost international calls through Viber Out, a direct competitor to Skype Out, but offering (at least temporarily) lower per-minute rates.
The service was Viber’s second paid feature, along with a sticker store launched last fall, while 95 percent of Viber’s overall services are still free to users. The company has been going after industry-dominating Skype (News - Alert) hard with small features, like accurate caller ID and easy desktop access to your phone’s contact list.
Internally the company is prepping for growth with a switch to Couchbase for database management, a move that will give it agility and scalability for data management needs. Viber systems architect Amir Ish-Shalom said the change from MongoDB to Couchbase will give them the ability “to handle hundreds of thousands of ops-per-second – an order of magnitude more than our previous solution." In the highly competitive VoIP world lags, connection failures or downtime can be a killer. Cassandra and Amazon’s DynamoDB were among other database solution systems considered before deciding on Couchbase.
The upgrade positions Viber for what it hopes is worldwide growth in 2014 but particularly in rapidly growing overseas mobile markets. The service currently serves 200 million subscribers in 193 countries and is focusing on accelerating growth in promising markets like India and China. For some countries Skype’s price per minute is more than three hundred percent higher than what Viber is charging and as these nations continue to develop, costs and value remains top of mind.
In an interview with a U.K. journalist, Indian writer and TV host Rajiv Makhni said, “We may be middle class now, but we still squeeze every last little bit out of the toothpaste tube. We still take every toiletry from a hotel room, even if we just take them home and put them in a drawer and never use them.”
Viber is also preferred by systems managers who’ve banned Skype from company devices to save battery life and systems resources. While Skype is notorious for using resources (a problem that is supposedly fixed in recent releases) Viber doesn’t even have to be running to receive calls. The app can be exited and it will relaunch when you click to accept a call.
With both low costs and big internal upgrades Viber is going all in for 2014 but the company believes the moves are required for it to compete on the global stage.
Edited by Alisen Downey