Viber closes Vietnam office; industry insiders say its rivals are too strong

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Viber closes Vietnam office; industry insiders say its rivals are too strong

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Viber, the company that operates the popular instant messaging app of the same name, has decided to close its office in Vietnam and move the operation to its sole Southeast Asian office in the Philippines.
Nguyen Dang Quynh Anh, director of Viber Vietnam, said the company is changing its strategies in Southeast Asia and it will set up a common office for the region, instead of having one in each country.
Anh said despite the closure, users in Vietnam will enjoy normal services.
Viber opened its office in Vietnam in January 2014. It has around 23 million users in the country, the company said.
The app, similar to other popular instant messaging apps including Zalo and Line, is not linked to traditional telecom or Internet service providers but operate atop established Internet connections, hence the name over-the-top (OTT) apps. 
“We have finished our mission of setting up the foundation for Viber in Vietnam’s OTT market.
“OTT itself is a multi-national foundation and it is not a product for an individual country,” Anh said.
The company’s new office in the Philippines is expected to start running next month, overseeing its services there as well as in Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar.
Industry insiders said Viber leaving Vietnam might be related to a rule under discussion that requires it to install servers in Vietnam or sign commercial deals with a local telecommunication firm in order to provide chargeable services such as Viber Out.
Representative of a local telecom firm meanwhile told news website VnEconomy the reason is possibly "poor business."
The source said that based on local figures, Viber’s active users in Vietnam are only around five million and much lower than the company’s estimation.
Viber Vietnam is facing strong competition from local OTT apps, it said.

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