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Viber, one of Skype’s biggest VoIP rivals, has been bought by Japanese firm Rakuten in a multi–million pound deal. The online retailer has stumped up £540 million for the Cyprus–based messaging and VOIP service.

The move is being seen as an attempt to shore up Rakuten’s position in its home country, where it’s being squeezed financially by Amazon’s growing presence. Rakuten invested in Pinterest in 2012.

Viber has over 300 million global users, with internet calling over 3G and a new desktop IM platform for calling non–Viber users currently its key offerings. Skype, owned by Microsoft, remains the market leader when it comes to VoIP.

It’s as yet unclear what the takeover means for the future of Viber, which was only founded in 2010. However, it’s unlikely that end users will see any changes to the service, at least in the short term.

It could also mean greater competition in the space, as Skype and Google look to fight back against Rakuten’s move.



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