Let’s face it, trying to outperform WhatsApp in the user engagement category was once thought to be impossible. After all, who could possibly contend with the app’s strong user base of “active” users that ranks vastly higher than even the “registered” user count of any of its competitors?
However, since the acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook, there has been a lot of doubt as to whether privacy can be maintained. LINE saw two million new users sign up after a brief WhatsApp outage, which was also pushed over this fear of losing personal privacy. Now Viber, which is also just rearing from an acquisition itself believes it has what it takes to take on WhatsApp.
Mikitani wants twice as many users on Viber as Zuckerberg plans for WhatsApp
In an interview with Bloomberg published Thursday, Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani spoke for the first time about his hopes for Viber, explaining he wants to see its user base grow to a whopping two billion, twice what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has planned for WhatsApp.
How is this going to happen? Penetration into new markets for one. According to Mikitani, Viber is currently adding 600,000 new users daily, up from around 550,000 when the deal was announced. And as previously noted, it already has 300 million users signed up, though it’s not saying exactly how many of these are actually “active”.
Viber could add one million users a day “maybe in two or three more years”
“The goal is to reach one billion, two billion users, not to stop yet,” Mikitani told Bloomberg. “We’re planning to increase to one million additional users every day. That means 365 million a year.” He said he thinks the messaging app can hit his million-a-day target “maybe in two or three more years.”
Rakuten’s CEO said more mergers and acquisitions may be required to reach his lofty goal, suggesting that his company may be open to the buyout of rival offerings, the acquisition of app developers whose games and services can be incorporated into Viber, or even the inclusion of more e-commerce features to attract new users.
Mikitani called Viber “one of the most important projects” for the company at this point in time.
Another Japan giant, SoftBank, reportedly looked to buy a stake in fast-growing LINE, but these reports have since been denied by LINE. Still, it does hint at the possibility of further consolidation of the space down the road.