LINE Corp has been busy in the last week, launching a sticker and emoji keyboard app as well as bringing its music streaming app to Japan and investing in a developer specialising in social and smartphone apps.
The app maker launched Emoji LINE, a “supplemental sticker and emoji keyboard app” for iOS available globally except in Japan, Thailand and Taiwan.
The firm is big on stickers and even has merchandise around its characters. It seems to want to replicate their popularity in regions where its own app hasn’t gained ground.
“Emoji LINE users will gain a glimpse into the expansive LINE universe. The simplified version for iPhone brings the LINE experience to users, where they can meet original LINE characters Brown, Cony, Moon, and James in sticker and emoji form,” it said in a statement.
After trialling its music app in Thailand, LINE launched LINE Music in Japan for Android and iPhone devices, offering more than 1.5 million songs from labels including Sony, Universal and Avex.
LINE Music is an on-demand music subscription service, “differing from the mainly prevalent radio-style subscription services currently found in Japan,” the company said in a statement.
“What sets LINE Music apart from similar services is its tight integration with the LINE messenger app,” the statement added.
Users can send music or playlists directly to friends or groups on the LINE app’s chat screen, or share them on their timeline. Songs sent by users in the LINE app can be played inside the app’s chat and timeline screens.
Artists who have official accounts can add links to their LINE Music artist page and stream music from their official accounts.
The service is free for the first two months after which subscription plans will range from a JPY 500 ($4) basic plan to a JPY 1,000 ($8) premium plan. A browser version of the service is planned for release in July.
LINE Music CEO, Jun Masuda, said the firm “has plans to actively increase the number of songs, labels, and artists on LINE Music in the future, and hope we can raise our users’ interest in music and revitalise the music industry in an effort to become the top music streaming service available.”
In October last year, LINE formed a new company with Avex Digital and Sony Music Entertainment and in December it acquired Microsoft’s MixRadio, a free music streaming service that allows users to create a personal radio station.
According to The Verge, streaming music is not popular in Japan, which is why companies like Spotify, Rdio and Pandora haven’t ventured into the country, alongside a tricky situation regarding rights. Apple Music could be a major competitor but it is not clear when it will launch in Japan while Awa, a new music service owned by Avex, launched late last month.
Japanese mobile streaming subscription revenue was just JPY5 million ($40,660) in 2014.
LINE also announced it will invest in TriFort, a developer specialising in social and smartphone apps via its LINE Game Global Gateway investment fund.
“LINE will continue to financially support Japanese game development companies that create high-quality content, and will also continue to actively support international expansion through the LINE Game platform to help Japanese-developed content achieve success on the world stage,” the company said.