Line and WeChat Strike Advertising Gold

APACWSJ — Marketing on mobile messaging apps has yet to take root in the U.S. and Europe in a big way, but it is already in full swing in Asia. And even then, Japan’s Line and China’s WeChat, two of the dominant mobile messaging applications in the region, are just beginning to scratch the surface of a potential advertising gold mine.

Line sold $268 million worth of stickers last year amid Asia’s messaging boom

JapanQuartz — Messaging app Line is finally going public, and its filing reveals some amazing statistics about a key part of its business: digital stickers. Those stickers generated ¥28.7 billion ($268 million) in revenue last year, about a quarter of the company’s haul. It also makes money from games and advertising, both on Line and two large web portals that it operates. Total revenue in 2015 was ¥120.4 billion ($1.1 billion).

Line sold $268 million worth of stickers last year amid Asia’s messaging boom

Messaging app Line launches its own debit card

JapanTech in Asia — Messaging app Line said yesterday it will launch a prepaid card – called Line Pay Card – for shoppers. The announcement was made by director Jun Masuda onstage at the Japan-based company’s Line Conference Tokyo 2016 event. The Line Pay Card, made for Line’s 68 million Japanese users, is launched in partnership with credit card company JCB.

Line messenger gets voice calling support for up to 200 users

JapanTimes of India — NEW DELHI: The instant messaging app Line has rolled out a group calling feature for its Android and iOS users. The new feature enables users to voice call more than one person at a time within the groups or multiple person chats. The company states that the group calling feature supports up to 200 users.

Line plots $3b IPO, but may have a tough road ahead

JapanTech in Asia — Rumors of an IPO for Line have been rumbling on for nearly three years. What was once thought to be a US$10 billion IPO could turn out to be a US$3 billion listing, according to a report today from Reuters affiliate IFR. Citing people close to the deal, the article says Line Corp, the Japan-based company behind the messaging app, plans an IPO of up to US$3 billion in New York and Tokyo that is expected to happen before the end of the summer.

Line may delay IPO listing until 2nd half

JapanKorea Times — Line, the popular messaging app launched in the aftermath of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, has delayed its plan for its initial public offering (IPO) until the second half of this year, according to market analysts and officials, Monday. “The plan by Naver to have an IPO for Line will be delayed until the second half of this year due to market uncertainty and the mediocre business growth of Line,” said Ahn Ji-maan, an analyst at NH Securities in a note to clients.

Thai junta pressures Facebook, Line to censor online posts

ThailandChannel News Asia — BANGKOK: Thailand’s military government will try to persuade media companies Facebook and Line to comply with court orders to remove content it considers harmful to peace and order, a senior official said Sunday. The junta-appointed NRSA advisory council plans to meet executives from the two companies in the next three months, council member Major General Pisit Paoin told Reuters.

CyberSource enables LINE to offer mobile payments in Thailand

ThailandMIS Asia — Mobile messaging app company LINE has partnered CyberSource — an e-commerce payment management service provider that is part of Visa — to enable mobile payments for its users in Thailand. Through the partnership, LINE Thailand’s acquirer Krungsri (Bank of Ayudha) will leverage CyberSource’s global payment gateway to process a wider spectrum of mobile payments from multiple card brands and issuers, as well as certain alternative payment methods.

Kirin to introduce Line-connected photographic vending machines

JapanCampaign Asia — The move is an effort to make vending machines more exciting, according to a statement on Kirin’s website. Products are displayed via an LCD interface, and the machines are also able to screen video advertising. The photos feature colourfully illustrated backgrounds and Line characters, and are in a similar style to Japan’s popular ‘purikura’ instant photo booths.

Line CEO Takeshi Idezawa talks Line’s global push, hints at IoT integration

JapanTech in Asia — For his interview today at Rise Conference in Hong Kong, Line CEO Takeshi Idezawa talked via an interpreter, but he used English to ask one critical question to the audience – how many of you are using Line? A sea of hands shot up, a loyal bunch of the firm’s 211 million monthly active users. Idezawa, the newly installed CEO of the Japanese messaging juggernaut, was on stage to highlight his company’s growing reach beyond Asia.

Chinese Government’s Protectionism Hindering Growth of Korean Mobile Messengers

KoreaThe partial block of the Line and Kakao Talk mobile messengers in China since July 1 of last year is showing signs of extension, while Chinese game studios are taking advantage of the local regulation that forces Korean game developers wishing to do business in China to pass through their studios. According to industry sources, the Chinese government is continuing to block access to global Internet services.

Line launches paid music streaming service in Japan

JapanJapanese messaging app Line is bolstering its dominance in Japan with a paid on-demand music streaming service featuring an initial catalog of over 1.5 million songs. Line Music is an app and a Tokyo subsidiary that began streaming music in Japan by domestic and foreign artists on Thursday. The catalog covers music from about 30 labels and publishers, including Sony Music Entertainment Japan, in genres including classical, dance music and J-pop, or Japanese pop. Line plans to expand the catalog to 5 million songs this year, and aims for over 30 million in 2016.

LINE News service popular in Japan

JapanLINE, the operator of Japan’s most popular mobile-messaging service owned by Korean portal giant Naver, said it has 12 million monthly active users of its news service, LINE News. The number of the news service users increased by 4.9 million during the past month. It started the service at the end of April. Its concept of the news service is to “let users know the current issues in three minutes,” and allow the users to catch up on the latest news without reading the entire text.

Line offers music streaming, from Thailand

ThailandMessaging app company Line Corporation, backed by entertainment firm RS Plc, has announced the launch of Line music streaming service in Thailand to cash in on the burgeoning online music market in the smartphone era. The development is part of Line’s strategy to expand from being a top messaging app into an entertainment and services platform.

Strong Q1 results as Line metamorphoses from messenger to lifestyle service

JapanLine Corporation, the company behind Japan’s blockbuster messaging app Line, today announced its earnings report for the first quarter of 2015. Total revenue for January-March was JPY 28.1 billion (US$236 million), a 70 percent increase from the same quarter last year and a 9 percent uptick quarter-on-quarter. The Line app itself accounted for JPY 25.4 billion (US$214 million) of that figure, representing a 76 percent increase over the same quarter in 2014 and a 9 percent bump from last quarter.

Line announces that it’s coming to Apple Watch

JapanToday, Japan’s Line messaging app announced via the company’s website that it will support the Apple Watch. Users of the Line smartphone app will be able to link the app with their Watch to view and send messages on their wrist. And – of course – you don’t have to reply with your voice, as the Line Watch app will also support messaging with stickers and emoji.

Ex-Line CEO Akira Morikawa nabs $4.1M for new video startup

JapanOne of the biggest mysteries in Japan’s startup world – what will Akira Morikawa, the former Line CEO do next? – is finally solved. Morikawa unveiled his new project, a video media startup called C Channel. He also secured JPY 500 million (US$4.1 million) in funding from a banner list of investors. GMO VenturePartners, i-Style, Asobi System Holdings, Gree, Nexyz, B Dash Ventures, MAK Corporation, and Rakuten all joined the round.

Line restarts IPO preparations, could bow to $10B this year

JapanLine, the chat app and gaming platform which is becoming a lifestyle portal, is restarting preparations for an IPO. The Nikkei is reporting that the company reapplied to the Tokyo Stock Exchange to begin the procedure. A 2015 IPO is possible, but not guaranteed. The move is new CEO Takeshi Idezawa’s first order of business. Yesterday, he officially took over the top spot. No, it was not an April Fool’s joke, but a transition months in the making.

Line’s instant messaging software aims to take on local leader Viber, from Myanmar

MyanmarThe service is available on iOS and Android, and aims to woo users partly through its in-app innovations such as group chat and a range of emojis, or small graphics that can be interspersed in text conversations. “People can send their emotions to other people or to friends with endearing stickers,” said Line Myanmar general manager Dae Yun Hwang. Line is far from the only application taking aim at the local instant messaging business.

Line’s ecommerce app goes live in Taiwan

TaiwanMore than a year after it first hit Japan, Line’s standalone ecommerce app has finally arrived in Taiwan. Currently available on Android, Line Mart features the same interface as Line Mall, its analogous Japanese counterpart. Users can browse through an assortment of categories like clothing and electronics, to find an item they’re interested in. Buyers can “heart” an item they like and leave messages for sellers.

How Line is turning Instagram into an ecommerce app in Thailand

ThailandLine and Instagram stand out as two of the hottest social apps in Thailand. Line is the dominant messenging platform in the nation, with over 33 million registered users. Messaging with Line has become so quotidien – one entrepreneur told me about how her mother operates several Line groups for her various circles of friends – that the app has emerged as arguably the most trusted channel of interaction outside a physical encounter.

China’s WeChat sends a message to Line and Kakao in their home turf

China.gifSINGAPORE: Mobile messaging apps Line and Kakao Talk are busy trying to conquer overseas markets such as Southeast Asia and India. But they may do well to keep a close eye on their home turf of Japan and South Korea as China’s WeChat amasses more users. Among six messaging apps, WeChat saw the biggest upptick in usage in Japan and South Korea last month versus a year earlier, boosted by its gaming, e-commerce and multimedia capabilities, according to data on Android smartphones tracked by Mobidia.

Line acquires Japanese payment startup WebPay

JapanLine Pay, the payments solution-focused subsidiary of Japanese messaging company Line, has agreed to buy out Tokyo-based WebPay Holdings in order to accelerate Line Pay’s business expansion.  WebPay provides a Stripe-compatible payment processing solutions for e-commerce, web services, and mobile developers in Japan.

Line’s business accounts go global – and they’re free

JapanLine, the messaging app superstar whose press releases constantly thwart my attempts at inbox zero, has a new announcement which is sure to please entrepreneurs. Line@, the company’s version of a corporate account is going global. Signing up for the account, available via the separate Line@ app (iOS or Android), is free and multiple individuals from a single orgainzation can use their official one simultaneously.

Line Life Global Gateway has $42M for startups

JapanLine, the messaging app taking over the world one sticker at a time, just announced a new investment fund. Titled the Line Life Global Gateway, the fund will operate independently from Line Ventures, although the latter company along with Line itself are the only two parties putting up capital. The JPY 500 million (US$42 million) fund went live on February 4th and is expected to operate for 10 years.

Number of Line users to top 700 mil. this year

KoreaThe number of users Line, the Naver’s mobile messenger app, is expected to exceed 700 million this year, according to officials and analysts Sunday. Naver saw the number of users cross 600 million recently. “The number of users continues to grow and we see the number exceeding 10 million in 13 countries, including Turkey,” said Hwang In-joon, chief financial official (CFO) at Naver, during a recent conference call with investors.

Line gets into groceries with launch of online supermarket for Southeast Asia

JapanLine, the popular messaging app with 181 million monthly active users at the last count, is set to launch online grocery deliveries across Southeast Asia. Line’s new online supermarket service launches first in Thailand on February 4. It promises discounts on some everyday groceries that people need to stock up on often, such as bottled water, coffee, and instant noodles. There’ll be free delivery for Thai shoppers.

LINE, advertisement lead Naver to Q4 profit

KoreaNaver said Thursday its operating profit in the fourth quarter grew 30.3 percent from a quarter ago, led by robust growth from its advertisement sales. The nation’s largest Internet service provider said in its regulatory filing on Thursday that it has posted 196.1 billion won between October and December, compared to 150.6 billion won a year ago. Its sales stood at 750.2 billion won in the same period, up 19.3 percent from last year’s 628.8 billion won.

Line cuts the revenue share of sticker creators from 50 to 35%

Line’s DIY sticker marketplace used to be known for its largesse but from February 1, its terms are going to get a lot tighter. Currently, sticker creators get 50 percent of the proceeds from selling their stamps. Next month, that number will go down to 35 percent. The change will be effective worldwide. Though gaming is Line’s biggest money maker, the messaging app’s popularization of stickers in communication is a major contributor to its viral success.

Line denies government monitoring app messages, from Thailand

The parent company of the Line mobile-chat application Tuesday denied press reports that government is monitoring messages sent through the service in Thailand. “No monitoring by the Thailand government has been conducted,” Nam Ji Woong, a spokesman for South Korea-based Naver Corp., which owns Line Corp., said by e-mail today. “Line considers consumers’ privacy as a top priority.” The government was monitoring more than 40 million messages sent via Line each day, Khaosod reported, citing Pornchai Rujiprapa, Thailand’s minister of information, communication, and technology.