|Initial release||March 2011|
|Operating system||iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Nokia Asha series, Firefox OS.|
|Available in||English, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Malay, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian|
|Type||Instant messaging client|
Line (styled "LINE") is a proprietary application for instant communications on electronic devices such as smartphones, tablet computers and personal computers. Line users exchange texts, images, video and audio, and conduct free VoIP conversations and video conferences. Line, designed and launched in Japan in 2011, reached 100 million users within eighteen months and 200 million users only six months later. Line became Japan's largest social network in 2013. In October 2014 Line announced that it had attracted 560 million users worldwide with 170 million active user accounts.
Line was originally developed as a mobile application for Android and iOS smartphones. The service has since expanded to BlackBerry (August 2012), Nokia Asha (Asia and Oceania, March 2013), Windows Phone (July 2013), Firefox OS (February 2014) and iOS tablets (October 2014). The application also exists in versions for laptop and desktop computers using the Microsoft Windows and Mac OS platforms.
Line began in 2011 as the brainchild of engineers at NHN Japan, the Japanese arm of Naver Corporation (formerly NHN) based in South Korea. Today the popular messaging service is operated by Line Corporation, a spinoff company headquartered in Japan, which still remains a subsidiary of Naver.
Line began as a response to disaster. Japan's devastating Tōhoku earthquake in March 2011 damaged telecommunications infrastructure nationwide, obliging employees at NHN Japan, a unit of Korea's NHN Corp, to rely on Internet-based resources to communicate. The company's engineers developed Line to facilitate this, and the company released their app for public use in June.
The application proved hugely popular and by late October Line experienced an unexpected server overload. After concluding that the scalability process needed to be improved, NHN Japan chose to adopt HBase as the primary storage for user profiles, contacts, and groups. Within eighteen months of its release Line reached 100 million users; six months later it reached 200 million and on November 25, 2013 is used by 300 million users.
On July 3, 2012, NHN Japan announced the new Line features "Home" and "Timeline." The features allowed users to share recent personal developments to a community of contacts in real-time, similar to the status reports in social networking services such as Facebook.
On 6 February 2013, the success of Line led NHN Japan to announce a new spinoff company named Line Corporation. Line Corporation, based in Japan, continues to develop Internet resources such as Line, the Naver Japan search portal, and the Livedoor ISP and blog platform. Games, including those for the Line Game brand, remain under the auspices of Hangame Japan. A new joint venture named Line Plus Corporation, also based in Japan, develops overseas markets. At launch the majority of Line Plus shares were held by the newly created Line Corporation (60%) with the remaining shares (40%) held by its Korean parent NHN Corp.
Line began in summer 2011 as a communication system for NHN Japan employees, then saw explosive growth when released to the public in June of that year. By January 18, 2013, Line had been downloaded 100 million times worldwide. The number expanded to 140 million by early July 2013 and to 200 million by July 21. As of February 2014, Japan claimed 50 million users, Thailand 22 million, Indonesia 20 million, Taiwan 17 million, while India and Spain 16 million each. NHN Company representatives promptly announced plans to reach 300 million by further expansion in East Asia, Spain, and Chile. In April 2014, Naver announced that Line has reached 400 million worldwide users.
Line is an application that works on multiple platforms and has access via multiple personal computers (Windows or Mac OS). The application will also give an option of address book syncing. This application also has a feature to add friends through the use of QR codes, by line id, and by shaking phones simultaneously. The application has a direct pop-out message box for reading and replying to make it easy for users to communicate. It also can share photos, videos and music with other users, send current or any specific location, voice audio, emojis, stickers and emoticons to friends. User can see a real-time confirmation when messages are sent and received or use a hidden chat feature, which can hide and delete a chat history after a time set by the user. The application also makes free voice and video calls. Users can also chat and share media in a group by creating and joining groups up to 100 people. Chats also provide bulletin boards on which you can post, like, and comment. This application also has timeline and homepage features that allow users to post pictures, text and stickers on their homepages. Users can also change their Line theme to the theme Line provides in the theme shop for free or users can buy other famous cartoon characters they like. Line also has a feature, called a Snap movie, that users can use to record a stop motion video and add in provided background music. Line also has the possibility to create "Hidden Chats", giving the user the ability to set a timer after which messages disappear from both involved devices and Line servers.
Features a Sticker Shop where users are able to purchase virtual stickers depicting original and well-known characters. The stickers are used during chat sessions between users and act as large sized emoji. Users can purchase stickers as gifts, with many stickers available as free downloads, depending on country availability. Purchased stickers are attached to an account and can be used on other platforms. New sticker sets are released weekly. Line's message stickers feature original characters as well as a number of popular manga, anime and gaming characters, movie tie-ins, and characters from Disney properties such as Pixar. Some sticker sets, such as those that celebrate special events like the 2012 Summer Olympics, are released for only a limited time.
There are over 1 billion stickers sent by worldwide users on a daily basis.
Line accounts can only be accessed on one mobile device (running the app version), plus one personal computer (running the version for those). Additional mobile devices can install the app but require different mobile numbers or e-mail addresses for the Line account.
In China, Line suppresses content to conform with government censorship practices. Analysis by Citizen Lab showed that accounts registered with Chinese phone numbers download a list of banned words that cannot be sent or received through Line. The banned words reflect the usual taboo topics proscribed by Chinese officials, such as the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 and issues surrounding Tibet and Hong Kong.
Line publicly confirmed the practice in December 2013:
“LINE had to conform to local regulations during its expansion into mainland China, and as a result the Chinese version of LINE, ‘LIANWO,’ was developed. The details of the system are kept private, and there are no plans to release them to the public”.
— Hazuki Yamada, LINE's public relations official
LINE GAME was created in 2011 by NHN Japan. Line Corporation announced its games had been downloaded 200 million times worldwide. Only those with an account to the Line application can install and play Line Game games. Players can connect with friends, send and accept items, and earn friend points. Games range from puzzles, match-three, side-scrollers, musical performance, simulation, battle, and spot-the-difference games. Below are just 5 of the many games Line offers.
Disney Tsum Tsum
Disney Tsum Tsum features Disney characters in the form of stuffed animals which are called "tsums." Similar to Bejewled and Candy Crush Saga, players trace connected tsums in one continuous line which causes them to pop. The more tsums popped, the more points awarded. Tsums can also be collected to generate more points depending on the tsums skills.
Line Cookie Run is a side-scrolling game featuring Brave Cookie, a character that looks like a Gingerbread Man. Like many other side-scrollers, players run in one direction collecting coins and power-ups and dodge obstacles.
Mass Fishing is, as its title suggests, a fishing game. Contests are held four times per day in which players can compete with others in the Line community.
Hidden Catch is a puzzle game in which the player must compare 2 pictures and point out the differences.
I Love Coffee
In I Love Coffee, the player runs his or her own coffee shop. The object of the game is to keep the customers happy by fulfilling their orders while maintaining a clean, inviting, and prosperous cafe. Players can decorate their cafe any way they want and strive for best cafe in the neighborhood.
In popular culture
On May 16, 2014, Warner Music Italy released the music video for Italian singer Annalisa's "Sento solo il presente", in which the recording artist is seen using the Line application at the beginning of the video.
- "Line Hits 200 Million Users, Adding 100 Million in Just 6 Months". Tech In Asia. 23 July 2013. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- Horwitz, Josh (9 October 2014). "Line finally reveals it has 170 million monthly active users".
- Akky Akimoto, 2013-12-17, Looking at 2013′s Japanese social-media scene, The Japan Times
- "Line is Now Available for BlackBerry!". Line Official Blog. Line Global. 17 August 2012. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
- "Line for Nokia 'Asha' Device Scheduled to be released in March 2013!". Line Official Blog. Line Global. 26 February 2013. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
- Steven Millward (26 February 2013). "Line App to Hit Nokia Asha Phones in March, Keen to Chat Up Emerging Markets". Tech In Asia. Tech In Asia. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
- Rick Martin (13 June 2012). "NHN Japan Launches Popular Line App for Windows Phone". Yahoo! Sports. Yahoo! Inc. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
- Scott DeVaney (4 February 2014). "Line Lands on Firefox Marketplace". Mozilla Apps Blog. Mozilla Foundation. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
- Saito, Mari (16 August 2012). "Born from Japan disasters, Line app sets sights on U.S., China". Reuters. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
- admin (1 November 2011). "Naver Line App is Back Online in App store". My Phone Daily. WordPress. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
- Esen Sagynov (2012). "The Story behind Line App Development". CUBRID.org. CUBRID.org. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
- "Line messaging app doubles size in seven months, has 300 million users". Retrieved November 25, 2013.
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- Josh Robert Nay (19 January 2013). "Line VoIP and Messaging App Now Has More Than 100 Million Users". TruTower. TruTower. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
- "Line exceeds 200 million users worldwide!". 23 July 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
- "Number of registered Line app users in selected countries as of February 2014 (in millions)". statista.
- John Ure (7 July 2013). "Asia’s Internet challenge". Live Mint & The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
- "Line app tops 400 million users - The China Post". The China Post. 3 April 2014. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
- Jon Russel (22 July 2014). "Messaging app Line gets serious about privacy with Telegram-inspired ‘hidden chat’ feature". TheNextWeb. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
- "Taiwan market has great potential for Line". ZDNet. 27 November 2013. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
- "FAQ: Can I use the same Line account from multiple devices?". Retrieved December 30, 2013.
- "Asia Chats: Investigating Regionally-based Keyword Censorship in LINE". 14 November 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
- "Asia Chats: LINE Censored Keywords Update". 30 April 2014. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
- "Asia Chats: LINE Corporation Responds". 6 December 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
- BigSeanVEVO (16 December 2012). "Big Sean - Guap (Explicit)" (Video upload). YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
- "Annalisa - Sento solo il presente (Videoclip Ufficiale) - YouTube". Warner Music Group (WMG) Italy. 16 May 2014. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
- Official Site: Line
- Official Site: Line Corporation
- Official Site: About NHN Corp and Naver
- The Next Web article 2013.02.06
- Japan Times article 2012.07.18