Wow! Viber Beats Facebook in Myanmar

Often, we have the perception that a developing country’s use of technology is limited to voice and SMS text messages on basic or feature phones. When you are thinking of Myanmar, you will need to adjust that perception.
First, Facebook adoption is tracking Internet adoption, pretty much one-for-one. Like in many countries, Internet users in Myanmar often even think Facebook is the Internet. Interestingly, the most popular Facebook brand pages in the country are for the new mobile network operators, Ooredoo and Telenor. People are ready to get online with their phones.
Next, before you think Facebook is the most popular application, check out On-Device’s Myanmar research, which found that Viber is even more popular than Facebook. 58% of 577 respondents polled said they used Facebook, 79% said they regularly use Viber, which claims over 5 million users in Myanmar.
Viber allows free voice calls and messaging, and according to Talmon Marco, Viber’s chief executive, Viber works better than other apps on Myanmar’s dodgy mobile networks and its primarily facilitating text messaging versus voice calls.
Now this result may not be surprising when you consider that mobile phones have a 10% adoption rate, while Internet users are only 1% of the population, but don’t think that means those in Myanmar are going to be offline forever. Myanmar will be the first smartphone-only country and all best are off on who will have the largest user base in 2015 and beyond.
But you know who will not have the largest user base? Plain voice and text. Communications, in all its forms, will be an app-centric experience for Myanmar, so start adjusting your program design now.