Japan-based messaging app maker LINE is aiming to reach one billion users during 2015, more than doubling its current user base, according to its CEO.
Akira Morikawa announced the bold objective during a press conference in Tokyo, which was reported by Bloomberg, just weeks after the company revealed it had reached 400 million registered users.
Morikawa has stated several times that LINE aims to reach at least 500 million registered users by the end of the year.
The fact that LINE reports registered users rather than monthly active users makes comparisons with rival messaging apps difficult. WhatsApp’s most recent monthly active user figure is 450 million, while Tencent’s WeChat/Weixin has 355 million monthly active users.
But LINE is clearly seeing an increase in usage levels and is gaining an international profile.
Usage has increased in 2014, with record daily usage figures of 10 billion chat messages, 1.8 billion sticker messages and 12 million phone calls. In terms of reach, 10 countries now have more than 10 million LINE users, including the US, South Korea, Malaysia and Mexico.
Further evidence to suggest LINE is looking to expand internationally is a report in The Economic Times that says the company is talking to Indian mobile operators about offering special bundled data packages and carrier billing to users of the messaging service.
In a further effort to boost engagement this week, LINE introduced its Creators Market, which enables users to produce and sell their own stickers on the messaging service’s Web Store, which also offers games. Each sticker will be priced at JPY100 ($1), with LINE taking 50 per cent of the proceeds from sales.
Having one billion users is clearly a significant milestone.
When Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp was announced, Mark Zuckerberg said once the messaging service reaches a billion or more users, there will be “many clear ways that we can monetise”.
LINE’s rise has been bolstered in recent months with the extension of its LINE Call voice offering, enabling low cost calls to mobile phones and landlines both domestically and internationally in Japan, the US, Mexico, Spain, Thailand and the Philippines. The messaging platform previously only offered free voice and video calls between LINE users.
In addition, LINE launched Business Connect, a customisable corporate service that allows business users to send targeted, optimised messages to specific users; and LINE Creators Market, an open platform for the sale of user-produced stickers.
The new services are part of the ‘Beyond LINE’ initiative in which the company is looking to evolve the services it offers users.
According to Bloomberg, LINE is considering an IPO, with BNP Paribas estimating a value of as much as $14.9 billion for the company.