Messaging app maker Line Corporation used its annual conference to announce a five-year vision based on three major concepts covering connectivity, video and artificial intelligence (AI).
The company said it wants to increase its video and streaming capabilities, and expand the scope of its artificial intelligence (AI) services, moves it said are “designed to take communications into the post-smartphone era” and further its role as a smart portal which can “seamlessly meet all its users’ daily needs.”
Line’s core messaging app will get a new upgrade in the coming weeks to enable users to activate their camera within a chat and add effects and filters using facial recognition.
Users will also be able to compile slideshows with music and effects which they can share via chat, send live video streams to contacts, and customise chat settings with extensions and plugins. For instance, by installing in-chat apps, users can share their schedules or play games with contacts.
Line’s News Tab, which was added in February 2017, will be updated into a full Portal Tab offering weather, horoscopes, and public transport information all of which will be “personalised for each user’s lifestyle.”
In April Line said its Japan-only news service exceeded 59 million monthly active users (MAUs) as of March 2017, an increase of 13 million since December 2016.
Services and collaborations
Line also announced an agreement with Japan’s Cabinet Office linking the government’s Mynaportal with the company’s messaging app.
Myna refers to ‘My Number’ – an identification number all individuals have for taxation, social security and disaster response purposes.
Users will be able to search for government services via Maina-chan, the Mynaportal’s Line official account, without providing personal information. If they find what they want, they can access the Mynaportal directly from the app.
Meanwhile, Line is launching a shopping service which uses the messaging app as a shopping gateway, as well as Line Delima, a food delivery service which will roll out sometime in the summer.
Line said its Live platform “has grown into a video distribution platform with over 13 million monthly active users” and the company is now expanding the service so all of its messaging app’s 68 million monthly active users will be able to watch live streams and post comments.
In-stream advertising will also be added to Line Live: “Line will continue to grow this service as a part of its video streaming ecosystem and look for new directions the ecosystem can develop,” it said.
Wave, the first device powered by Line’s AI cloud platform Clova, is a smart speaker scheduled for official release in autumn 2017 at a price of JPY15,000 ($137). In comparison, Apple’s new Homepod is priced at $349.
Users will apparently be able to “control chat messages” on the Line app via Wave plus enjoy some 40 million tracks via the Line Music streaming service.
Line also signed a deal with Toyota to explore business opportunities using Smart Device Link (SDL), a technology standard which connects automobiles with smartphone and tablet apps.
“Initiatives like these represent the start of Line’s goal of creating a world in which AI blends into every device and every environment in everyday life – all through Clova,” the company said.
In future, Line wants to release Clova to third parties to expand the platform.
Line posted a profit of JPY1.63 billion in Q1 2017, overturning a loss of JPY234 million in Q1 2016, mainly due to an increase in advertising sales.
The results are similiar to Q4 2016 when Line swung into the black on strong growth in advertising, which increased more than 50 per cent year-on-year.