Prior to reading the linked article all I knew about Line was that it was another messaging app. At least that’s what I thought I knew.
This article at Fast Company quickly changed my mind about the service because unlike Whatsapp and Twitter there seems to be something really remarkable going on behind Line.
Less than four years after Line’s launch, the company says that more than 560 million people worldwide have registered as members, the majority of them in Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand. One hundred eighty one million users log in to the Line app each month. While that’s a smaller user base than WhatsApp (700 million monthly active users according to research firm Canalys), Facebook Messenger (500 million), and Tencent’s WeChat (480 million), Line has done a remarkable job of turning its popularity into a growing, diversified business.
Its reported revenue of $656 million in 2014 comes from a range of sources that few rivals can match: It sells games that can be played solo or with other Line users; those digital stickers, which can be purchased to express a dizzying array of emotions; marketing deals with brands and celebrities that want to reach its user base; and merchandise such as the products at the Harajuku shop. Meanwhile, Facebook has yet to spell out how it intends to make money from Messenger or WhatsApp, which it purchased last year for a history-making $22 billion.
It’s funny when you look back and there were all these apps that first came out in 2009 and 2011 like Whatsapp and Line and they all just seemed so one dimensional, so about doing just ONE thing and now we find out that each is worth millions and billions of dollars! The app sphere is really quite a peculiar and competitive market.