Rakuten is acquiring messaging and VoIP platform Viber for $900 million, in its latest push into the digital content space.
The Japanese e-commerce giant explained the acquisition perfectly complemented its strategy in the digital space, as people continue to shift from traditional content and communications platforms to mobile applications. Its the latest venture following its recent acquisitions of Kobo, Wuaki.tv, and Viki.
Viber is one of the most popular mobile communications services worldwide with a rapidly growing global user base of 300 million registered users, growing over 120 percent in 2013. This is likely to not only allow Rakuten a platform to reach new users, but also for Viber to stregthen its foothold in new and existing markets.
"Viber understands how people actually want to engage and have built the only service that truly delivers on all fronts. This makes Viber the ideal total consumer engagement platform for Rakuten as we seek to bring our deep understanding of the consumer to vast new audiences through our dynamic ecosystem of Internet Services," said Rakuten Chairman and CEO, Hiroshi Mikitani, in a statement.
Last September, Viber launched a free desktop service putting it in direct competition against Microsoft's Skype, allowing users to make free video calls with one another. The Viber mobile app offers free online phone calls, text messages and picture sending on iOS, Android and other mobile platforms -- similar to other apps such as LINE and WeChat.