Launched in June 2011, Line lets users make free voice calls and text messages, but it has expanded into social games and connected applications. It is is available across iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry and Nokia Asha mobile platforms, while it also has clients for the PC and Mac.
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The company says it is seeing particular growth in Southeast Asia and Latin America, and specifically picks out India — where it recently made a concerted local push — the Philippines, Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina and Peru. That’s in addition to existing successes in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia; though Line doesn’t provide a figure for its active user base.
Titles on the Line Games platform — which lets apps and games hook into the service to offer social features and game sharing — passed a cumulative 150 million downloads last month. Currently Line offers 33 games, including Line Pop and Line Wind, which have passed 30 million and 10 million downloads respectively.
The company makes money through virtual goods sold through games and messaging content like stickers. It also taps into brands to offer paid-for ‘official accounts’ which companies can set up to reach out and engage with users on the service. Line says it will aggressively expand the number of local sticker sets and businesses using the service in markets worldwide as it seeks more revenue and strives to provide a more compelling user experience.
Line continues to experiment with new business models. It’s most recent being an in-app app store. Businesses and developers can pay to list their apps in the store, while users are incentivized to download apps to get free virtual coins.
The service is some way behind WhatsApp, which boasts 250 million monthly active users, and WeChat — over 300 million downloads and 195 million monthly active users — but it has an impressive global user base that is helping it to compete, if not out perform its rivals in emerging markets. The company launched in the US in January, but we expect a stronger push will come later this year.
Line recorded an impressive $58 million in revenue for Q1 2013. That figure was up 92 percent on the previous quarter and, with new revenue models and more users, it seems like we can expect even greater revenue for Q2 2013.
The company’s next global conference for partners and developers takes place in Tokyo on August 21.
Note: This post initially reported 200 million registered users, but, as per the Line blog, the figure is actually for “for iPhone/Android/Windows Phone/BlackBerry/Nokia Asha/feature phone apps combined”. That means users who have one account but use Line on multiple device count as multiple ‘registered users’. That’s sneaky because it enhances the figures that Line releases.
In response, Line says:
Line users actually only create a single account that can be accessed via a variety of devices including smartphone, tablet, PC, etc. The company counts each registered user, regardless of the devices they use to access their account.
Headline image via TNW