Economy, Business And Markets

Iranian Rivals for Viber

Iranian Rivals for ViberIranian Rivals for Viber

The cooperation between the Supreme Council of Cyberspace and the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has finally yielded results with the launch of the first two local mobile social networks, namely Syna by Mobile Communication Company of Iran (MCI) known also as Hamrah Aval and BisPhone by Irancell. It is expected the two new applications rival foreign-made ones such as Viber, Line and Whatsapp, which currently enjoy wide popularity among the Iranian users.

"Syna is a social network application developed by Bahar Ertebat Gostar on the orders of MCI. It was unveiled and commercially launched during the 15th Iran Telecom Fair which was held on October 6- 9 in Tehran," Morteza Borji, Syna project manager said in an interview with Financial Tribune on Friday.

"Syna allows users to make free phone calls and send text, sticker, photo, voice and video messages to anyone who also has the application installed. Syna also allows the users to call non-Syna numbers at rates lower than Viber's," he explained.

The direct connection between Syna and MCI enables Syna users to make direct calls to any MCI number costing them only 375 rials per minute, cheaper than the original MCI on-net tariff which is 570 rials, Borji added.

The sticker market available in Syna features local designs and the developer intends to add a collection of local characters in the near future. Syna in compatible with both Android and iOS and is currently available for download at Kandoo, Iranapps, Bazar and MCI website. The iOS version, however, is under test by Apple and is expected to be available in Appstore within the next 10 working days upon the completion of required formalities, according to Borji.

Although the application allows for free-of-charge services, it is expected to generate income through selling stickers as well as advertising contents. The application has the potential to replace SMS as a fresh advertising tool given the range of features integrated for this purpose, at a time when mobile subscribers are fed up with unwanted SMS advertising, Borji explained.

"It is a pleasure to see Iranian youth empowered to design and develop local applications similar to foreign ones that enjoy the same features as free texts and calls as well as acceptable quality and speed. We, as the government, have made every effort to prepare the necessary infrastructure for this group," Mahmoud Vaezi, minister of communications and information technology said in an interview with journalists on the sidelines of the Telecom Fair, as reported by Mehr news agency.

It makes no difference whether to use foreign or local applications as far as the purpose is to communicate in a fast and easy manner; therefore, we hope that people warmly receive the local applications as well," Vaezi added. "The ministry of communications is prepared to provide support for such developments in cooperation with mobile operators."

The ministry, as the responsible body to monitor the contents of Iranian and foreign social networks, believes "filtering" is not a "good solution" and users should be encouraged to use local applications by promoting the culture and offering incentives instead of adopting disciplinary mechanisms, according to Vaezi.