Japan based LINE Messenger, the mobile messaging app backed by Line Corp, a unit of South Korea’s biggest Internet search provider NHN Corp, has appointed Damandeep Singh Soni as its Head of India Business Development.
LINE Messenger, a relatively new player within the growing segment of mobile base internet driven instant messaging in the country, has been rivaling other players like WhatsApp, WeChat, Nimbuzz and others and frankly not doing a great job. The company has stated that Soni’s role will be to ‘lead the brand’s focus in developing partnerships and unique offerings for the market.’
Soni’s past endeavors include a stint with Nokia as Director – Sales. He has worked with Infosys to develop its business within the Telecom Segment. Evidently Soni has practical and strategic experience of developing, sustaining and enhancing sales by tweaking product development cycles and developing marketing and sales strategies.
LINE’s appointment of Soni clearly indicates that the company is now primed to take its business a step ahead than inorganic promotions using young celebrities and sports stars. So far, LINE’s promoters had been trying to position the platform as a fun application that worked across all mobile operating systems and offered a very cool way to interact with one’s friends and peers.
LINE’s growth has still to pick–up a steady pace. By the company’s own admission, its India base was about 10 million and had hoped to double it by end of 2013. In comparison WhatsApp has already sped ahead with 36 million active users who send out more than 50 billion chat messages every single day! The race on the global scale is equally unbalanced with LINE’s 230 Million users as against WhatsApp’s 430+ million users.
Though one of Soni’s primary responsibilities will be to remedy this situation and bring the messenger at par, if not ahead, with other players like WhatsApp and WeChat, his role will also involve trying to rope in partners that will drive the adoption via channels and content manipulation.WhatsApp has vouched for operator tie up like it did with Tata Docomo recently after the preliminary success with Reliance; while WeChat has pumped its marketing spends by roping in Bollywood celebrities and movie marketing.
Along with his Sales and Marketing experience, Soni has also dabbled in the startup ecosystem with PK Online Ventures and has been the head of ad network, AdChakra. Given his experience, LINE appears to have laid its trust in good hands.