The free mobile messaging app Line, headquartered at Japan has announced that it has passed 200 million downloads. The app backed by Line Corp a unit of South Korea’s biggest Internet search provider NHN Corp had announced 150 million downloads in May, 2013. The hockey stick growth of the app is commendable since the milestone comes in a time period of two years.
The app that was launched in June, 2011 has credited the strong growth to the local support and at the same time acceptance by the international users such as – Taiwan, Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries, the Middle East, Spain, India, and South America.
Thanking its users on the occasion, the messaging app has made various paid-for LINE character stickers free for a limited period. The details of it could be found here.
The success of Line can be credited two important aspects – 1. Adding interesting features 2. Spending on marketing initiatives.
1. Adding interesting features
Line is famous for its stickers or rich emoticons amongst users. These stickers have not only made messaging simpler but also have turned into one of the sources of handsome revenue. The app earlier had revealed that it has made 5.82 billion yen i.e. $58 million from the first quarter of 2013.
Breaking the revenue down, Line specified that around half of its revenue has come from in-app payments and from the elaborate range of social games people play together on Line. Another 30% of its revenue that is approximately $17M is from paid Stickers.
The messaging app has been working on its social gaming platform. The platform had recently seen 150 cumulative download of games. Launched in July, 2012, Line Games are present on iOS and Android platform. Currently there are 33 games available on the platform.
At the same time the app is planning to make money with the introduction of an app promotion initiative. With “Line Free Coins” the app is targeting a new source of revenue.
The new initiative will allow users to use the virtual currency to download selected apps. Right now the program is available only with the three LINE-integrated apps but LINE has indicated that more third-party apps selected and reviewed by the LINE team will be available in future for the ‘Line Free Coins’ program.
The app very recently launched a Japanese news app – LINE News. The new app will be part of its existing apps such as – Line Camera app, Line Anti-Virus, Line Novel for e-books, Line Manga, etc. The news app available only in Japanese language, is syndicating news from all major Japanese news sources. The content displayed is from politics to gossip to Formula one.
And there has been constant support to the international users. A month back the app extended its support to German, Italian and Portuguese languages. At the same time the app also brought in features to its iOS version like in-app browser along with the possibility of having brightly coloured themes for a better user experience.
In addition to these features, LINE has brought improvements like the basic messaging, call functions and a new button to report strangers who invite you to multi-person chats. Besides this the LINE version 3.0.7 has a new Photos function that makes accessing of photos easy from the chat room and you can locate the QR code easily now as they are under the Profile feature.
2. Spending on marketing initiatives
LINE has been focusing on the international market for some time now. In order to reach out to international users, it has been spending on marketing initiatives. At the same time the company has taken various efforts to localize its service and contents for each country and region.
The company offered special Brown and Cony Ramadan stickers to users in Islamic regions in conjunction with Ramadan, the month of fasting.
In India when the company launched in the beginning of July, the app launched with two TVCs targeting the Indian youth. One of the TVC is promoting the free voice chat feature of the app and the other TVC is focussing on Stickers or rich emoticons communication.
Apart from Asia, Line is now focusing in the Spanish market and very recently is looking to expand its base in the US. Speaking to Forbes, Jeanie Han, who heads LINE’s business in Asia, Europe and Asia shared that the app shot in popularity in Spain after they got Spanish movie stars Hugo Silva and Michelle Jenner to set up so-called Official Accounts on LINE and star in TV commercials for the app. Today Spain has more than 15 million users and has seen 300-fold increase over just six months.
Now Line is trying the same trick in US to get American celebrities on board since the market is new and also dominated by one of the popular messaging app – WeChat.
The latest milestone is great for a two year old app but it has some fierce competition from apps like Kakao Talk from South Korea, WeChat from China, Hike from India and obviously from WeChat.