LINE is a Japan-based, cross-platform mobile messenger app with 217 million monthly active users worldwide. Created in response to the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, LINE was originally designed as an internet-based method of communication that did not have to rely on the then-damaged telecommunications infrastructure. Despite strong local mobile messenger competition LINE particularly dominates the mobile messaging market in its home country Japan with 54 million users as well as other regional markets such as Thailand and Indonesia.
Despite having started out as a messenger app, LINE has grown into a full-fledged social platform offering many spin-off apps such as LINE Camera, LINE Card and LINE Kids Video. According to user survey results, text and group chat are the app’s most popular features but games and voice calls were also frequently accessed by users. In February 2017, LINE was one of the top grossing mobile apps in the Google Play Store with global app revenues of 14.65 million U.S. dollars. LINE’s mobile gaming apps feature strong social gaming components and are free-to-play with in-game purchases. As of February 2017, LINE also ranks among the highest-grossing mobile gaming app publishers - during that month, LINE generated 26.79 million dollars in mobile gaming revenues.
LINE is financially successful – parent company LINE Corporation’s annual revenue in 2016 amounted to more than 140.7 billion yen, the majority of which was generated via in-game purchases of items. Digital sticker purchases as well as advertising revenues through official brand accounts and sponsored stickers provided further digital revenue streams. As of May 2014, users were able to submit user-created sticker sets to be sold via LINE. User-generated sticker sets generated 150 million Japanese yen or 1.47 million U.S. dollars in sales within the first month of launch.
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