Viber, a mobile communications application which offers free messaging and phone calls, yesterday announced an exclusive partnership with Globe Telecom in the Philippines.

The exclusive deal, known as The Globe Prepaid GoUNLI25, is a bundled prepaid offer with unlimited texts and calls, as well as unlimited Viber Chat without needing to spend money on additional data or Wi-Fi charges. Peter Bithos, senior advisor for consumer business at Globe Telecom, shared that this partnership is in line with their strategy to explore new revenue streams beyond call and text services. They are also looking at “becoming a full-fledged digital brand”.

Viber is also looking at this move as a way for them to expand their presence and user base in the country. Talmon Marco, CEO of Viber, commented that “Globe has been aggressive in leading the digital lifestyle of its subscribers”. He also added that this will be a new experience for Filipinos as they will no longer have to wait for Wi-Fi in order to chat with their friends.

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Viber also stated that Asia is a strategic target for them. It is hardly surprising, given that there is a plethora of chat apps in the region, unlike that in Europe or the US where Whatsapp is a dominant player. The chat app scene here sees LINE going all out with television commercials and one campaign after another. When Whatsapp finally understands that Asia isn’t going to wait for it to make any sort of progress in terms of app development, it will all be too late.

Viber’s strategy to give the Asians what they want — photo, text and video messages without having to pay for data charges — is way smart. This will set it apart from all the other chat apps, which honestly are mere clones of each other. You use a chat app because the people you want to talk to are on it. Why did MSN Messenger die? Facebook chat happened. People were getting on Facebook chat even though it had less features than MSN Messenger. No one cared about nudges or updating their display messages anymore.

By asking people to get on your chat app because it’s going to be free to consume data packets, that will get a whole lot of people onboard. When that happens, you build a community which keeps multiplying on its own. Cute stickers, emoticons and themes might be relevant, but it’s time to think bigger than that.