Line app conquers Japan, but can it take it further?

5 years ago by in Business

Line, a service providing free calls and messages, has conquered Japan, but can the company continue to develop abroad at such a fast pace?

Around 300 million people are using Line all over the world, according to a statement made by the company last week. The number has risen twice compared to April, when Line reported around 150 million users, and currently the company is only 50 million users behind WhatsApp.

Most users seem to be enchanted by the app’s stickers, often depicting baby animals and oversized emoticons, together with its games.

According to 30-year old Hiroko Yamakawa, who lives in Tokyo, everyone she knows in Japan is using the app, even her parents.

“I use it so much and it has now become essential to my daily life. I use this tool to communicate with my friends, family, colleagues… everyone. I like it because the stickers are so good they express different emotions precisely, and it has sense of humor. I even sometimes only use the stickers to express my feelings,” she said, according to the international press.

Line has extended in Southeast Asia, where it is already popular in Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and India and went forward to Western Europe and Turkey, becoming popular in Hispanic countries such as Spain and Mexico.

Currently, WhatsApp is the company’s main competitor. In India, for example, Line has 13 million users, while WhatsApp has 25 million.

“Line and WeChat and all these other players have formed a new path to prosperity,” said Jiong Shao, regional head of internet research, at Macquarie Securities. “They have used the messaging as the glue and have built that out into a social network. Now Line makes most its money from games and who knows what is next?” he added.

Shao added that breaking into completely new markets could prove a challenge for Line, though he noted that it would be a challenge for every player in the space.