Viber and Skype are two very popular programs, in both their computer software forms and their smartphone/tablet app forms. They allow users to text chat, share images and photos, use Internet audio chat, and even call phone numbers through VoIP technology. Skype was the first program to offer all of these features in one – including video chat – and it quickly became an enormous success around the world. Viber first went public in 2010, and within a year it was already offering Skype some stiff competition.
You might think that there really isn’t much of a difference between these two programs other than different interfaces and forms of usability. But that’s not entirely the case. In this article we’re going to look closely at each one and discover if there really is a superior rival, or if the answer is less black and white than that.
First, let’s take a look at the main features Viber and Skype provide:
What is VoIP?
VoIP is short for Voice Over Internet Protocol, and it’s the process of placing voice calls through the Internet via broadband connection. You can use this technology to call other computers connected to the Internet or to landline and cell phones, or you can attach an adapter to your phone line in order to call VoIP accounts or other phones.
VoIP is used because providers will allow you to make free calls to other people who are using the same VoIP software. This way you can call people anywhere in the world, and it’s completely free. In order to call landlines or cellphones you’ll have to pay for credit, which you can then use for minutes to talk.
This is one of the most crucial developments for the Internet business world because it allows employers, clients and customers to interact with each other no matter where they are, either for free through computers or for reasonable pricing to phones.
Skype and Viber both implement this technology as a foundation for their services, and they’ve both managed to turn it into a lucrative business.
Now that we understand what their primary use is, let’s set some requirements for winning this battle.
What qualities will define our winner?
Now, it’s obvious that Skype is the older, larger, more successful competitor of the two. It’s been around for longer (2003, while Viber was first released in 2010), it’s much more heavily advertised and well-known to the public, and it was acquired by Microsoft for $8.5 billion. On those fronts, there’s really no contest; therefore, using these stats would stack unfairly against Viber.
What we’re looking for are other aspects of these programs that can be compared and contrasted. With this in mind, our winner will need to have:
Fair prices for calling landlines and cellphones Formidable connection service that prevents interference and dropped calls Extra features (text chat, media sharing)Visually pleasing, easy-to-use interfaces
Viber – pros and cons
Since its inception, Viber has been downloaded more than 10 million times, and continues to quickly grow in popularity. Earlier this year it was acquired by Rakuten, a Japanese eCommerce corporation, for $900 million. With that type of financial backing and its rapid growth, Viber could be poised to overtake Skype in a matter of years.
Thorough tests conducted by Suren Miro, staff reporter for Argyll Free Press, have shown that the Viber app uses 30% less bandwidth than Skype during voice calls, so it doesn’t slow down the rest of your Internet connection. It also consumes a lot less battery power than Skype does when you’re in a call. Viber’s integration of contacts in your phone is quick and seamless as well; you create your account by adding your cell number, and it automatically adds all of your contacts into a list, with a “Viber Out” icon showing you which users don’t have Viber currently.
Also, since you create your account using your mobile phone number, anyone you call using Viber Out is going to see your number come up on their screen. Integration with the phone means they’ll receive your Viber call like they would any other phone call. Skype doesn’t offer this feature.
In terms of cheap VoIP calls, Viber offers its Viber Out feature in order to call landlines and cell phones, but this was added only in recent years. Comparisons show that rate differences between Viber and Skype will vary depending on the country you’re calling and whether you’re calling a landline or a mobile phone, but that for many countries, Skype tends to be a lot cheaper. For example, calling the UK on Viber Out will cost 1.9 cents per minute to call a landline, while calls to cell phones cost 5.9 cents – for Skype, it’s 2.3 cents for either one. The rate is the same for Skype calling Australia, but with Viber Out you’ll have to pay 15 cents a minute.
Viber on computers uses more CPU than Skype, so it can slow down your machine, which is never good. Viber is also not as well-known as Skype, so you won’t be able to talk to many people if they aren’t using Viber.
Skype – pros and cons
Skype not only offers very cheap rates for calling landlines and cell phones, they also offer a subscription service for those who call only one or two countries with Skype very often. So instead of paying for all of your minutes every month, you can pay a flat rate that varies by country and save a lot of money. You can make unlimited calls to Mexico, for example, for 99 cents a month, or $1.19 a month to China.
Skype also offers group chat with up to 9 other people, which is essential for businesses that use Skype to host webinars. With Viber, you can only call one other person. There is a third-party program called Pamela which you can use to record your Skype calls, as well, so if you need to record those webinars and take notes or send the file to a coworker, you can do so easily with Skype. You can use Skype Credit to include phone users in a group call, with no additional fees.
In terms of usability, you can link your Facebook account to Skype in order to see your news feed and all of your friends in your Skype list, and you can like and comment on posts in Skype as well as communicate with your Facebook friends right from your Skype list. This way you don’t have to keep checking your phone to look at Facebook and you don’t even have to open it in a web browser.
For one thing, calls tend to drop pretty frequently with Skype, even if the quality of those calls is better than Viber’s. A lot of times the connection not only drops but it prevents you from calling those numbers back for a long time, which can be a hassle. Sometimes, for no apparent reason, Skype will disconnect you from its service as well – just like you’re back in the dialup modem days – and it won’t let you log back in. Sometimes messages can inexplicably take hours to send, as well.
Seeing as Skype uses more bandwidth than Viber, it can significantly slow down your internet connection, and even cause your PC to use more electricity, which results in increased bills at the end of the month. This isn’t too significant if you’re not a very frequent Skype user, but the drop in Internet quality can be a pain if you work online.
You also can’t use Skype at all unless you have a wifi connection, which can render it useless if you don’t have any wifi or roaming service to use.
In terms of cheap calls, it’s clear that Skype is the better contender. By paying very low monthly flat rates to call the countries you call frequently, you can be saving a lot of money. Skype is also much more widely used than Viber, meaning that it’s a lot more likely that the person you’re trying to contact already has Skype, so you won’t need to call their phone at all.
In the end, it’s really up to the user in question to decide which program they prefer. The value of the other things we’ve looked at – aesthetics, features, ease of use – are entirely subjective areas that are influenced by personal preference.
Someone might prefer Skype because they need it to make group calls and record their Skype webinars, while another might prefer the better organization of phone and other contacts that Viber provides. Some might prefer Viber because it consumes less battery power during calls, while others just prefer the way Skype looks and feels in comparison.
So although it is cheaper to call using Skype, it’s not plausible to conclude that one is “better” than the other. Just like Windows and Apple or PlayStation and Xbox, each has their own set of pros and cons, and it’s ultimately up to the consumer to decide what they like best.