Pop quiz: WHICH social media platform is currently adding 1.7 million new users globally each day? It’s probably not who you think.
Once considered an only-in-Japan curio, LINE has swiftly captured the imagination of a huge swathe of youthful, technologically savvy Asian markets.
The numbers around this growth are eye-popping. According to Business Insider, LINE has amassed an extraordinary 560 million registered users in 230 different countries since its inception in March, 2011.
How engaged are those users? Each day they send a combined 13 billion messages.
After conquering the Japanese market, LINE’s global footprint has grown with impressive velocity. Some 90 per cent of its users now hail from outside of Japan.
Yet until now, there’s been a glaring omission on their path to global relevance: the US market.
Tellingly, this may be about to change – earlier this month LINE announced it has captured an impressive 25 million American users.
SIMILAR, BUT DIFFERENT
So what exactly is LINE? The best way to describe LINE is to compare it to its chief competitors: What’sApp and WeChat. Yet rather than a serving as a simple, straightforward social media platform, it works mostly as a messaging app.
While social media giants Facebook and Twitter have increased their focus on messaging, a veritable constellation of apps – think Blink, What’sApp, Viber, Snapchat, the now notorious Yik Yak and more recently Spayce – have enjoyed their own pop cultural moments.
The unique pitch for LINE is the ability for its users to communicate via picture-generated icons or stickers.
There are now more than 40,000 different sticker packs for LINE users to download. While some are free, many are not. (Revenue for LINE in the most recent quarter was $177.5 million, up more than 100 per cent from last year).
MORE THAN MSGING
We read with great interest that LINE is not content with just stickers and messaging. Its team of hungry developers is already working on a range of apps that suit the platform. In Japan, there is already a mobile payment system and, perhaps most intriguingly, a competitor to Uber called LINE Taxi.
Unlike What’sApp, LINE hosts celebrities such as Paul McCartney and Taylor Swift who users can follow, in the same way they do on Instagram or Twitter. Brands can pay to be on LINE too, and many send coupons or offers to users through the app.
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