After WhatsApp and Viber, it is Line’s turn to be bought, with Softbank being interested in the acquisition. The Japan-based messaging app, which is presently owned by South Korea’s Naver Corporation, has around 360 million users across the world, with most of them in East Asia.
In 2013, Line’s full year revenues were $335 million, making it the highest for any non-game app in both Google and Apple app stores. Last week, WhatsApp was sold to Facebook for $19 billion, while Viber was sold on February 14th to Rakuten, a Japanese company, for what now seems like a bargain-basement price of $900 million.
Line reported earnings of $120 million for the fourth quarter of 2013, up 550 percent over the previous year, and now it could be valued at around $14.9 billion, the international press reports.
What makes Line different from Viber (which facilitates making free calls) and WhatsApp (which is a simple way to send messages) is that it has “stickers” and oversize emoticons that users can buy and send to friends or family. It also has in-app games.
Aside from Softbank, there is at least one other company that plans to take a slice of Line’s pie, the media says. With messaging apps in high demand at the moment, Line can afford to be pricey.