LINE casts itself deeper into Malaysian waters

  • Focus on growing Malaysian user base this year
  • More localized content and features expected, plus partnerships

LINE casts itself deeper into Malaysian waters
MOBILE messenger service provider LINE has announced its goal to exponentially grow its Malaysian user base this year.
Hyun-bin Kang, head director of LINE PLUS Corporation, said Malaysia was selected as a key market as the company feels the country has high growth potential with one of the highest smartphone penetration rates in the world.
"Therefore, we plan to shape LINE and its family brands to complement the needs of our users in the Malaysian market, by continuing to invest in enabling simpler and more convenient use of the service,” he said.
The shift to Malaysia comes after successful inroads had already been made into Singapore, Indonesia and Hong Kong.
LINE currently has over 100 million users worldwide and claims 400,000 new users daily. Within Asia, its biggest markets are Japan (45 million users), Thailand (17 million users) and Taiwan (15 million users).
According to a Bloomberg report, citing Jay Park, a Seoul-based analyst at Samsung Securities Co, LINE is spending 250 billion won (US$223 million) marketing the app this year, more than double last year’s amount.
Since its debut in June 2011, the service has evolved from its mobile messenger roots to a social platform. It now has over 24 LINE-related apps, which have garnered over 100 million downloads to date.
LINE’s family of apps include LINE Card which allows users to send and share cards for special occasions, and games such as matching game LINE Pop and Line Play which allows for customizable avatars and virtual rooms.
Speaking to Digital News Asia (DNA), Khongming Leong, LINE Business Office manager, said the company currently has a team of over 100 developers in South Korea and Japan working on apps for its platform.
“Right now, we are focused on expanding our app offerings via in-house talent but in the future, we will certainly be looking into opening it up to external developers,” he said.
Another feature of LINE is the Sticker Shop where users are able to purchase virtual stickers depicting original and well-known characters.
A new innovation introduced by the company recently saw G-Dragon of K-Pop group Big Bang release his new single via the platform. Fans were able to download an exclusive set of G-Dragon stickers, which allowed them to listen to the song for free.
“We expect 2013 to be a year of transformation for mobile messengers to become a mobile content platform for content distribution,” said Jin-Woo Lee (above pic), general manager of the Global LINE Business Office.
When asked how many Malaysian users its service currently has, Lee said the company does not disclose figures for markets with fewer than 10 million users. “However I can say that in Malaysia we already have a few million users registered.”
“LINE already has established partnerships with many local businesses, corporations as well as well-known personalities to grow its local content and provide a more enriching experience for our users,” Lee added.
Leong added that the company was actively looking for potential partners in Malaysia, especially for its Official Accounts offering which is intended for brands and celebrities.
“We are looking for brands and celebrities that want to work with us to create synergy and co-market,” he said. In addition, the company is looking to work with animation companies, cartoonists and other content providers.
“We’re planning new services for Malaysia, and in the future, intend to educate and train local developers about our platform to enable the creation of interesting content for our users,” he said.
LINE also now supports Nokia’s S40 platform and will come preloaded on Nokia’s range of Asha smartphones, starting with the Asha 310. In conjunction with its focus on Malaysia, a nationwide roadshow is also slated to kick off with three LINE-branded trucks making its way to 50 destinations from April 2 to May 31.

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