Viber is a free, cross-platform instant messaging and voice over IP (VoIP) application that was first developed and popularized by the Israeli company Viber Media that was bought by the Japanese multinational company Rakuten. In addition to instant messaging, users can exchange images, video and audio media messages by sending files to each other. As of December 2016, Viber had 800 million registered users.
Viber was developed by Viber Media. Viber Media was founded in Tel Aviv, Israel by a former chief information officer in the Israeli military, Talmon Marco, along with Igor Magazinnik, Sani Maroli and Ofer Smocha. Viber was initially launched for iPhone on December 2, 2010, in direct competition with Skype. An Android version was released on July 19, 2012. Viber for BlackBerry and Windows Phone devices was launched on May 8, 2012. On reaching 90 million users on July 24, 2012, group messaging service and HD Voice engine were added to both Android and iPhone applications. Applications for Nokia's Series 40, Symbian and Samsung's Bada platform were also announced on the same day.
Viber with voice was officially released for all Windows Phone 8 devices on April 2, 2013.
On July 24, 2013, Viber's support system was defaced by the Syrian Electronic Army. According to Viber, no sensitive user information was accessed.
In August 2013, Viber for Linux was released as a public beta and in August 2014 a final version.
On February 13, 2014, Rakuten announced they had acquired Viber for $900 million. The sale of Viber earned the Shabtai family (Benny, his brother Gilad, and Gilad's son Ofer) some $500 million from their 55.2% stake in the company.
On November 4, 2014, Viber scored 1 out of 7 points on the Electronic Frontier Foundation's "Secure Messaging Scorecard". Viber received a point for encryption during transit but lost points because communications were not encrypted with keys that the provider didn't have access to (i.e. the communications were not end-to-end encrypted), users could not verify contacts' identities, past messages were not secure if the encryption keys were stolen (i.e. the service did not provide forward secrecy), the code was not open to independent review (i.e. the code was not open-source), the security design was not properly documented, and there had not been a recent independent security audit. On November 14, 2014, the EFF changed Viber's score to 2 out of 7 after it had received an external security audit from Ernst & Young's Advanced Security Centre.
On April 19, 2016, Viber Media added end-to-end encryption to their service, but only for one-to-one and group conversations in which all participants are using the latest Viber version for Android, iOS, Desktop or Windows 10. The company said that the encryption protocol had only been audited internally, and promised to commission external audits "in the coming weeks". In May 2016, Viber published an overview of their encryption protocol, saying that it is a custom implementation that "uses the same concepts" as the Signal Protocol.
The actual functionality varies from platform to platform. Viber includes text, picture and video messaging across all platforms, with voice calling available only to iPhone, Android and Microsoft's Windows Phone although HD voice is planned for Windows Phone 8.
As of December 2013, Viber officially launched Viber Out, a feature that provides users the option to call mobile and landline numbers. Viber Out was originally released in November only to help Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines connect with their loved ones.
Viber's desktop version uses TCP and UDP ports 5242, 4244, 5243, 9785, and the standard HTTP/HTTPS ports 80 and 443.
In November 2016, Viber launched Public Accounts, to allow brands to engage in promotion and customer service on the platform. The Huffington Post, Yandex and The Weather Channel were the first to use it. The app allows its users to send a video message in one-push but to use numerous in-chat bot.
Viber Media is a Las Vegas and Cyprus-registered company with its development centers in Belarus and Israel. The company was founded by Marco and Magazinnik, who are friends from the Israel Defense Forces. The company is run from Israel, with much of its development outsourced to Belarus in order to lower labor-costs.
Founded in 2010, Viber was co-owned by its four Israelis: Marco, Magazinnik, Maroli and Smocha, prior to the startup's $900 million sale to Rakuten. At that sale price, the founders each realized over 30 times return on their investments.
Marco and Magazinnik are also co-founders of the P2P media and file-sharing client iMesh.
In its first two years of availability, Viber did not generate revenues. It began doing so in 2013, via user payments for Viber Out voice calling and the Viber graphical messaging "sticker store". The company was originally funded by individual investors, described by Marco as "friends and family". They invested $20 million in the company, which had 120 employees as of May 2013.