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Viber launches Public Chats

The messaging app's latest new feature allows users to follow and chat with celebrities and personalities.

apps Updated: Nov 19, 2014 17:03 IST
Viber

The messaging app's latest new feature allows users to follow and chat with celebrities and personalities.

Viber describes Public Chats as a new kind of social experience, but anyone who uses Twitter might see some similarities. However, regardless of the new feature's uniqueness, it is a concerted effort to grow the messaging and voice calling app into a true social platform.

As social messaging apps become ubiquitous, they are going to have to start evolving to earn greater revenues from consumers but also to retain users and attract others.

For example Line, the most popular messaging app across most of the Asia Pacific region, can be used to make mobile payments, bid in online auctions and even for remotely controlling LG's range of smart home appliances.

This growing trend is also why Snapchat is now offering a peer-to-peer payment service -- announced on Monday -- and why Facebook is developing a similar feature for its standalone messenger app.

"The release of Public Chats on Viber allows people to interact in a new way, listening in on live discussions and staying up-to-date with exclusive content from the people and subjects that matter to them most," said Talmon Marco, Viber CEO. "We are launching this concept with a great line-up of celebrities and personalities all over the world. They are opening up their conversations on Viber, and we're sure our users will love the ‘fly-on-the-wall' experience this delivers."

Initial luminaries that have signed up for Public Chats include celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, YouTube's Tyler Oakley and musician Pixie Lott. There are also dedicated feeds on a number of specialist subjects such as football and fashion.

Following what's going on in Public Chats will also be simple with a home screen within the app showing who's talking about what, who's sharing links and photos and who's posting videos.

The latest figures show that Viber has 460 million regular unique users -- that's almost twice as many as Twitter. In October it revealed it currently has 284 million monthly active users.