Messaging giant Line is looking at acquiring technologies in augmented reality, data mining and recommendation engines so businesses can better interact with users, Shin Jungho, founder and chief global officer, told Financial Times (FT).
“We realise that Facebook has evolved in the same direction as us, but we are confident that we are more advanced in terms of creating a one-stop smart portal model,” he said.
The move comes after the Japanese company completed its initial public offering (IPO) in Tokyo and New York, raising $1.3 billion at a valuation of $8.6 billion in what is being hailed as the year’s biggest tech IPO.
“We’re providing the same kind of services as Facebook and Google, the internet giants of the world. Fighting in the same digital arena as them is extremely important for us,” CEO Takeshi Idezawa said, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile Hwang In-Joon, CFO, told FT that “our competitors have a huge amount of money so we cannot compete in that aspect. We should have a different rule of game using localisation and culturalisation”.
Line has 218 million global monthly active users, compared to WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger’s 1 billion, but according to App Annie, for the past three years it has dominated the global non-gaming revenue rankings.
The app’s in-store monetisation success is particularly remarkable, the report said, given that no other publisher of messaging or social media apps ranks in the top ten.
“We have a good balance of revenue sources, and stickers and games are a great business for us. But advertising will be a very important growth-driver,” Idezawa said.
“It’s getting saturated in the Japanese market. The question about growth at home is how much Line can sell ads to increase its profit margin,” Reuters quoted Masashi Oda, general manager of strategic investment at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Asset Management, as saying.
“Whether Line can expand beyond its core market is key. In the US, there is much more competition,” he added.
According to App Annie’s report, Line’s ability to acquire users from abroad has been key to its growth. Aside from being hugely popular in Indonesia, Taiwan and Thailand, Line has topped the iOS App Store download rankings in 70 different countries, and 16 countries on Google Play.
The firm is unique in how it develops apps specifically for certain regions. The stickers inside the app, for instance, are localised for each country and culture.
Line has also produced a diverse portfolio of integrated apps, which has since become a pivotal factor behind its stable revenue growth.