Viber App Comes To Desktop, Could Become Skype Alternative
May 7, 2013

Viber App Comes To Desktop, Could Become Skype Alternative

Peter Suciu for — Your Universe Online

Skype has made a name for itself as a service that provides free Skype-to-Skype voice and video calls, and which last week added in-browser calling options from The Microsoft-owned Voice Over IP (VoIP) service almost seems hard to beat, but now rival Viber could be poised to strike back.

Until now the service has been a mobile-only option, thus competing with Skype and WhatsApp on mobile devices — where as with WhatsApp it can be tied directly to a user´s mobile phone number.

Now the Cyprus-based startup is looking to take on Skype on the desktop. With the release of Viber 3.0 for Windows and OS X the company looks to take on Skype in the traditional PC market, while also updating its Android and IOS apps. The company has also provided support for eight new languages, bringing the total to 27. The new languages include Dutch, Korean, Swedish, and Turkish.

“Viber for desktop lets you do pretty much everything that Viber lets you do on your mobile phone, with minor exceptions such as stickers,” Viber CEO Talmon Marco told Gigaom. “What puts it apart from Skype is how tightly integrated it is with the mobile experience. Skype went from the desktop to the phone. Viber went from mobile to desktop – the implication for the user is amazing.”

Viber for Windows allows users to send free messages and make free calls to other Viber users on any device and network, and in any country. The software can sync together contacts, messages and even call history with a mobile device so users can start a conversation from a mobile app and continue it to the PC. This allows for seamless switching from one device to another.

“People spend a substantial amount of time on their smartphones,” Marco noted in a statement. “However, a lot of that usage takes place at home or in the office, where they have laptops or desktops close by. With Viber Desktop you always get to use the most convenient device. You can seamlessly switch devices while messaging and even transfer calls between your mobile and desktop.”

While video calls are now available for the desktop version these are not yet available for the mobile apps, but could arrive soon. On the mobile front the 3.0 version has added video messaging capabilities to the iOS update, along with the ability to search contacts specifically for groups, and an Android update will follow. The new version is now available for the BlackBerry, but only for versions 5 and 7 of the platform.

The Android app also reportedly fixes a security exploit that allowed hackers to access handsets utilizing the Google-based OS via the messaging functionality. This exploit was discovered last month, and it was found that with two phones — both running Viber — an attacker could gain access of the victim´s handset. The Android version of Viber will now resolve that security hole.

According to Gigaom the VoIP service now has some 200 million registered users, with many using the company´s servers to connect, making Viber one of the largest users of Amazon Web Services — thus a costly proposition. The company is looking to monetize its services later this year, which could include yet-undefined “value adds” for users.