Over The Top companies like Skype, Whatsapp and Viber are one of the biggest threats to traditional telcos and players in the mobile telephony business. That we know and even came out quite vividly at last year’s Mobile World Congress where two telco heads from Germany and South Korea expressed their discontent over the OTT ways of riding over the already established intrastructure and eating the gains.
Rene Obermann of Deutsche Telekom is one of them who noted that carriers invest and the OTTPs ride on this and rake in the profits, adding that something has to change. Korea Telecom (KT)’s Suk-Chae Lee noted that revenues for KT have stagnated while capex spending has increased by 1 billion dollars up from $3Bn. “The builders of this cyberspace, the telcos, may have to watch the space be dominated by the giant Internet players or the OTTs,” Lee said.
That was even before the announcement of Viber Out which is a service just like Skype, but with lower costs.
Viber CEO Talmon Marco pointed out that services like Viber have that virality due to the way the service is laid out making users introduce their peers. He gave an example of Monaco which has 35,000 in population and even with free SMS service in the Mediterranean city, 90% of the residents used Viber.
Viber services include group messaging, delivery confirmation, indicators that the other person is typing, location sharing and full resolution image sharing. That definitely poses advantages over SMS which is a bit rigid.
Now Viber not only brings assault to mobile carriers but also to fellow OTT players WhatsApp and Skype. Mostly Skype. A recent availability of Viber Out on Windows Phone earlier in the month is the final stroke. As you will read here, Viber pricing is very competitive with some instances Skype being almost 400% pricier than Viber.
Windows is the home of Skype as Microsoft now owns Skype and has seriously integrated the service into both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. This includes bundling it into the Office 365 product. Goes to say they want Skype big and is expected to be a major revenue source.
Viber currently has 300 million users and is barely 4 years old, the same figure as ten year old Redmond powered Skype. This is bound to be quite interesting as Viber only made the assault to Windows Phone environment this month with Viber Out that allows users to make calls to mobile phones and land lines over an internet connection. Nokia even plays a part here by pre-installing Viber app on Nokia X Android devices announced in February at Mobile World Congress and already in the market.
That leaves the telcos who have quite pricey international calling rates at even thinner ground.