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Line Messaging App Knows How to Monetize

Updated: Jan 3, 2020

Written by: Larry Goodfellow

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A Major Messaging App

Line is a mobile messaging app that is based in Japan.  It was started and owned by the Korean Internet search engine Naver. The company’s success has been due to their ability to go beyond their free mobile messaging app and provide more advanced services than WhatsApp. The company has grown to be the fourth largest messaging app following China’s WeChat, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. What is interesting is how the company has taken a free message service and turned profits. The secret to the company’s success has been creating products that users want and are willing to pay for. Understanding customers is the reason why our online community research software exists. It is interesting whenever we see a company truly understand their customers like the example of Line. 

Line App does more than Messaging

Sure, you can be a popular messaging company, but that does not mean you profit. Line generates most of its income from advertisements, games that feature their cute animal characters unique to the company, and the emoticons that fill user messages. They also offers a payment service and have expanded to delivery services. It even launched Line Taxi in Tokyo to compete with Uber. It seems the goal for Line is to allow all it’s users to never have to leave the app, whether it be shopping, gaming, messaging or having your online purchases delivered to your house.

The company began as a response to the 2011 tsunami in Japan. The internet company Naver started the messaging app as a way for Japan staff members to communicate during the crisis. It later saw a huge rise in membership, and by 2013 the app had been downloaded 100 million times. Within six months that number doubled. The company then began focusing efforts on expanding server capabilities to facilitate the growth.  


In 2015 the company had grossed more than 1 billion in sales. with a majority of sales coming from in-app purchases with its social games. The game downloads have been staggering reaching 628 million downloads with 16 games reaching over 10 million downloads each. A company providing this many hits has to have a great understanding of the what their customers want. This, in our honest opinion, can only be done with in-depth qualitative research through focus groups or MROC’s. While some have criticized the company for being heavily concentrated in Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand this has been one of their strengths for growth as many of the users are heavily engaged in the app with so many friends and family using the app.

The company’s staggering success shows their uncanny ability to understand their market. Creating games with that many successful downloads shows that they clearly understand that segment of users. I can only assume that the company must have an extensive qualitative research community. The company’s use of creating and using cuddly cartoon characters have helped solidify the company brand. Travel throughout Taiwan, Thailand, and Japan and you will see teddy bear cartoon characters for sale in stores, as well as the characters on advertisements. The payment app is used throughout stores, restaurants and coffee shops. While Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp have been successful in gaining a larger audience they have been less successful in creating products and services that generate income for the company compared to Line. 

If you would like to ensure that you are creating products that are an overwhelming success then consider a market research online community.

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