Line is a freeware application for instant communications with electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets and personal computers. Just like Whatsapp, WeChat or Facebook Messenger, this app allows its users to exchange messages, videos, photos, audios, conduct free VoIP conversations and video conferences.
While it is similar to these apps, some distinctive features set it apart from the rest. Some of these features include cartoon-like animated emojis, virtual stickers, and games with mascots. Users can stream videos, make video calls, or even order taxis with it. It also offers its users a timeline much like Facebook’s.
Line is the most popular messaging app in Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand. In fact, it is the only Asian internet company that has achieved international recognition. It raises most of its revenue through the sale of emojis, virtual stickers, and other in-app purchases. It is owned by South Korea’s Naver Corporation.
When did Line start?
Line dates back to 2011 in the wake of the devastating tsunami. After the tsunami hit, it left most normal channels of communication broken. It was during this period that Naver, Japan’s internet giant, developed an app as a quick fix that allowed its staff to use internet-based communication.
Later on, in the same year, Naver released Line for public use, and the app quickly rose to dominate the market in Japan.
Since its launch, it has amassed over 600 million users worldwide. It is available for a variety of smartphone devices, including iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, and Nokia. Today, Line is the leading player in Thailand and Taiwan and has also gained a foothold in many other Asian countries.
What are their core services?
This application allows its users to send free messages from wherever they are, whether it is a group text to friends or on a one on one chat.
Free Voice and Video calls
Users can call their families and friends as often and as long as they want. This application allows free international voice and video calls, making it easy to stay connected with your loved ones.
With over 10,000 stickers and emojis, users can share exactly how they are feeling with friends and family. The stickers are available in the sticker shop.
Video and photo sharing
Line lets its users share videos, photos, voice messages, contact details and location at the moment.
Line in Thailand
The use of social media continues to soar in Thailand, with 80% connected consumers using instant messaging apps and social media platforms daily.
Line is the dominant messaging platform in Thailand with over 33 million registered subscribers. On average, Thai’s spend 234 minutes of their day on their smartphones of which 70 minutes of this time are spent on Line. According to Connected Life, 92% of all connected consumers in Thailand use Line.
Thailand is Line’s second largest market in the world after Japan. And as the Line app continues to dominate in Thailand, it also presents a tremendous marketing opportunity for business owners.
By leveraging the app's enormous user base, businesses can increase their brand awareness, build a list of loyal clientele and ultimately drive sales.
How has Line become a Revenue-generating application?
Other than being a powerhouse in entertainment and messaging, it is also a merchandise with payments and more. Line allows its users to create and sell their stickers to its users. Businesses may also exchange their own stickers for a user, adding their company as a friend on the app.
By doing this, a company gains a large following rapidly, widens their reach and boosts their brand awareness.
What have been their primary challenges?
Even with the impressive user services and big numbers, their attempt to make money from advertising on a scale has been challenging because of limited acceptance by consumers. Despite its efforts to grow its user base in the United States and Europe through sizable advertising, its user growth has remained stagnant.
This is especially because most consumers have already made their choice of chat apps, making it laborious to win new markets.
Other than this issue, Line has faced some controversies with its home country’s authorities for the way it handles its virtual currencies with its games.
It was also put under investigation in Thailand for allowing stickers that mock the country’s royal family.