Viber ranks as one of the world’s most popular messaging applications and was recently the target of a patent infringement lawsuit by South Korea’s SK Telecom Co., a suit that could see Viber banned from South Korea entirely.
According to the WSJ and “a person familiar with the matter,” Viber will be appealing the suit. Despite Viber’s relatively small presence in South Korea when compared to KakaoTalk and other Asian messaging competitors, the company still apparently sees the small nation as a valuable asset in its global expansion efforts. Viber’s appeal against SK Telecom might also prevent other messaging apps from being attacked by mobile operators in the country such as WhatsApp and WeChat.
The reasoning behind SK Telecom’s suit could easily be seen as the age-old story of a telcom company clinging to text messaging profits, a problem that has all but disappeared in countries like the United States, where messaging and talk are inclusive in pricing plans while data remains limited for most carriers except for T-Mobile US.
In total, Viber has 516 million registered users, about half of which use the service at least once a month to chat with their friends, compared to WhatsApp’s more than 700 million monthly active users, WeChat’s nearly 500 million users, and LINE‘s 181 million monthly active users.
Viber is available for most major platforms.