My cell phone has stepped into the 21st century and gotten a little smarter with this little application called WhatsApp. In addition to all the games my children have loaded onto the console that I use as a communication device for my business, now I can text my international friends for FREE. As I was sharing this new discovery on Facebook, I was made aware that WhatsApp for Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) is not the only option when it comes to Voice Over IP.
NBCnews, http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/forget-sms-whatsapp-messenger-hits-250-million-users-6C10410596 reports “WhatsApp is available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Android and Nokia. The service lets you send messages to users on any of the supported platforms without paying anything except your standard mobile data fee (and, for some versions of the app, a one-time $1 fee). It has support for images, video messages, audio notes, group chat and more.
Even though it launched only four years ago, in 2009, WhatsApp’s userbase is impressive in comparison to other communication platforms. Video-chat service Skype, which launched in 2003, had 280 million active users as of October 2012. As it marked its seventh birthday in March, Twitter celebrated 200 million active users.” WhatsApp now has over 250 million active users (including me). NBC also reports that “Much of WhatsApp’s popularity can be credited to international users, who face high SMS costs while texting across borders.” Which means I can text now my friends in India or anywhere else in the world.
WhatsApp is not alone in the VOIP space. Number 3 on the active users list is Viber with 200 million users as reported by Zdnet, http://www.zdnet.com/viber-passes-200-million-user-threshold-launches-free-desktop-service-7000015066/. Zdnet also says “The milestone announcement made by Viber Media means the company has grown its user base by 60 million since the end of 2012 when it had 140 million customers. Viber says it is gaining 400,000 new customers every day. Viber claims its customer base spans 193 countries but it is hoping to attract an even wider audience by making the service available in eight new languages, bringing it up to 27. While the Viber mobile apps offer free online phone calls, text messages and picture sending on iOS, Android and other mobile platforms — like Whatsapp — the desktop version will allow Viber users to make free video calls to each other.”
“People spend a substantial amount of time on their smartphones. However, a lot of that usage takes place at home or in the office, where they have laptops or desktops close by,” Viber CEO Talmon Marco said in a statement reported by Zdnet. Viber recently launched a desktop version that has been designed to integrate with mobile version, enabling users to transfer calls, sync received and sent messages and delete conversations.
Also in the VOIP space as reported by techcrunch, http://techcrunch.com/2013/03/07/tango-the-video-calling-app-turned-social-network-hits-100m-users-and-finally-arrives-on-ipad/ is Tango. “Tango, announced that it has reached 100 million registered users – up from 75 million in November. To celebrate the news, the company is also rolling out a native iPad version of its application, which will now support high-resolution video calling. The app is currently available in 212 countries worldwide, and localized in 39 languages. The Android version is helping with its growth, too, as the app has ranked No. 12 or No. 13 in overall most downloaded apps in over 35 countries where Tango has a presence, says Setton. But the U.S. is still the top country for Tango, accounting for over 40 percent of its user base.“
Honorable mentions go to VOIP providers, Maaii and ooVoo. Einnews, http://world.einnews.com/pr_news/151545882/mobile-chat-app-maaii-hits-1-in-itunes-malaysia-launches-payments-with-mol reports “The Maaii applications for iOS and Android platforms are becoming increasingly popular in Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and other markets. With several million users worldwide, Maaii is fortifying its user base in South East Asia and the Middle-East.”
FierceMobileContent, http://www.fiercemobilecontent.com/story/oovoo-details-android-ios-app-update-scheduled-summer/2013-05-31#ixzz2X59zeXYW says “ooVoo has 75 million subscribers–and 80 percent of all users who downloaded and signed up for ooVoo during 2013 did so via mobile device. Further, the company is signing on about 100,000 new users per day. OoVoo launched in 2007 with a desktop video calling and instant messaging service. “
These are fairly new competitors to the name brands of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) who also have plans to enter the crowded VOIP space. Now it is time to take advantage of all the options and make your SMART phone smarter!
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