A New Challenger to Skype’s Throne?

A New Challenger to Skype's Throne?

Phone and video services are something most of us use daily and there will be some presence of one on our computer’s desktop. They allow for face to face and voice to voice communication around the country and around the world regardless of the distance and with an internet connection you can do it all for free.

For the longest Skype has been the titan in this area. Sure there have been many other similar services to appear online with features that Skype don’t have or that Skype does better all around, but Skype has always been el numero uno in this area.

…and then Viber rolled into town.

Viber is a VoIP app that has been native to smartphones since December 2010. This week, it made the jump to the laptops and desktop PCs and Macs bringing with it some 200 million users already. Viber’s mobile version runs on Android, iOS, Symbian, and some versions of BlackBerry and Windows Phone. It also runs on wi-fi and 3G and is free at the moment, but the company does plan to generate money with the app later in the year.

Viber’s Desktop Game

So you have Skype and wonder “Why should I care about Viber? What does it offer?” Or maybe you don’t have Skype and are considering Viber. The desktop version is linked with mobile phones, so you’ll need a number. A bit of a bummer since Skype is ready out of the box, then again this is more or less a smartphone port as opposed to something completely independent from the mobile counterpart.

Once you put in your cell number, you’ll get a confirmation code and you’re ready to use Viber. With your cell number in Viber, it automatically brings those contacts to the desktop version. From here you can make calls and send text messages and they will be transferred between the desktops and mobile devices that have Viber on them. You’ll receive an audio notice—a beep—when something has been sent or received.

Since the mobile and desktop are linked, if you delete a message from one, it disappears on the other.

As expected, you can also do desktop to desktop calls and chats on Viber’s desktop app—the same as Skype and that other guy…Google+.

It should be noted that even though Viber is free at the moment, it’s free to other Viber users, so calls to people without it might bring up network charges.

Security

Ah, the all-important security and privacy concern. No one wants their information out there unless they put it out there and no one wants their information compromised by a service’s shoddy security. In the case of Viber there have been security and privacy situations.

One example is that hackers could lock up the home screen of an Android device because Viber mobile version’s permissions contain a clause that allows the app to do it. So that was a pretty sizable hole, but Viber patched it up.

There is also the issue of the address book on a device. A user’s address book is saved on Viber’s servers and is updated constantly as people are removed and added. Since their privacy policy doesn’t require them to have a historical backup, if the user deletes the address book from the service, it’s gone for good.

Versus Skype

Knowing what Viber offers, how does it measure up to Skype? At first blush it comes off as a viable contender. People who have used the mobile service and installed the app on their PC and Macs know what to expect as well as the ins and outs or else they would’ve dumped it a while ago. However it doesn’t have some of the features that people love about Skype such as international calls at a pretty cheap rate. Users also like that Skype doesn’t just stick its hand into their address book and pull out information.

It’s so unflattering, right? Just imagine someone picking up your belongings and saying “Hey you know him? I don’t know him, but I do now!” and they have to do it for whatever reason. That’s Viber.

The things Skype offers are considered industry standard since it’s the biggest dog in the yard. However, if anything arrives in any arena with a sizable user base, it will be put in the general competitor pool. With Skype having as large of a user base as it has, it has no immediate threats to worry about as we speak. That isn’t to say Viber doesn’t have the potential to compete, but it will need more sizzle and steak if it wants to in the same league as Skype.


Starting with Kabir News in 2013, James has focused on tech, gaming, and entertainment. When not writing, he enjoys catching up on sci-fi and horror shows and comics. He can be followed on Twitter @MetalSwift.

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