The latest Viber update comes courtesy of Rakuten’s most recent quarterly earning report. The messaging service gained more new monthly active users (MAU) than Line did since its last report. Viber added 17 million new MAUs to hit 236 million total MAU, while Line added 11 million new users to hit 181 MAU. despite success in that arguably unimportant vanity metric, the financials released by Rakuten show Viber is still running a deficit.
In the wide-spanning Rakuten Group, Viber’s financial data is grouped under the loosely-defined “Others” label. The other major business calling that section home is the company’s baseball team – a strong performer which won the national Japan Series in 2013. The Others category saw a tumultuous 2014 and experienced a profit-loss swing of JPY 4.4 billion (US$36.5 million) compared to 2013, despite an extra JPY 6.7 billion (US$55.7 million) in revenue gained during the year.
Due to the grab-bag nature of the Others segment, Viber’s precise contribution to that loss cannot be pinpointed. However, it is the only company cited as a loss maker in Rakuten’s official explanation
“…Revenue in the Others segment firmed up as the professional sports division was strong due to the transfer fee revenue accompanying the transfer of key players in addition to the growth in sponsor revenue and sales of related goods. Meanwhile, strategic investments have been made for the future growth of Viber, which became a consolidated subsidiary in March 2014. As a result, revenue for the segment was ¥42,445 million, an 18.7% year-on-year increase, while segment loss was ¥639 million versus a profit of ¥3,762 million in the previous fiscal year.”
The road to monetization is already being paved, however. Viber games soft launched last December. Some were critical of the initial game line-up, but it is is likely to be a driving factor in Viber’s success going forward.
For all of Line’s many side projects – the costs of which have not yet been revealed – its main source of revenue remains mobile gaming. Read more…