Viber has just released an update to version 4.0, introducing the revenue-generating sticker market for the very first time, as well as adding some new features and platform support.
Along with the new sticker market, which has grown from 50 free stickers to a collection of more than 300 stickers priced at $1.99, Viber is also adding a push-to-talk feature, much like what Boost Mobile was doing in all those “(Chirp) Where You At?” ads.
However, Viber claims to be using special technology that minimizes the time spent waiting between voice messages. Rather than record, send, download, and play (taking around 45-60 seconds for an average 15 second voice message), Viber push-to-talk does the recording, sending and playing all at once to turn around voice messages in four to six seconds.
While less technologically impressive, Viber’s new sticker market is an important product for the company, as it marks the first time Viber has added a paid feature to the free calling and messaging app. There are over 1,000 stickers that are ready for release in the market, though CEO Talmon Marco plans to unveil more and more over time, starting with around 300.
Approximately half of them are licensed from third parties, including cartoons and TV shows, while the other half are created by a team of 20 designers from all around the world. Viber does not disclose the revenue split for licensed material.
Of course, Viber has other potential routes for monetization as well, including call termination (a business the company has been experimenting with) as well as Viber Out.
Viber Out is a premium feature that lets users call any phone number (even non-Viber users). The company unexpectedly debuted ahead of schedule to participate in the relief effort in the Philippines, letting people hit by the Typhoon dial out to any number for free.
Along with push to talk and the launch of the sticker market, Viber is also bringing the app to Android tablets, offering similar functionality to the desktop app. Android tablet owners can message and take calls, switching back and forth from tablet to phone with one button.