Line (application)

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Developer(s) LINE Corporation
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
Licence Proprietary

Line is a Japanese proprietary application for instant messaging on smartphones and personal computers. Line users exchange text messages, graphics, video and audio media, make free VoIP calls, and hold free audio or video conferences. Line, launched in Japan in 2011, reached 100 million users within eighteen months and 200 million users only six months later.[1] Line became Japan's largest social network in 2013; on 25 November 2013, it announced that it had 300 million registrants worldwide, of which 50 million users are within Japan.[2]

Line was originally developed as a mobile application for Android and iOS smartphones. The service has since expanded to BlackBerry (August 2012),[3] Nokia Asha (Asia and Oceania, March 2013),[4][5] Windows Phone (July 2013),[6] and Firefox OS (February 2014).[7] 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, while still remains a subsidiary of Naver.[8]


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. NHN Japan released Line for public use in June 2011.[9]

The application proved hugely popular and by late October Line experienced an unexpected server overload.[10] 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.[11] Within eighteen months of its release Line reached 100 million users; six months later it reached 200 million[1][8][9] and on November 25, 2013 is used by 300 million users or doubling in just 7 months.[12]

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.[13]

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.[8]

Market share[edit]

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.[14] The number expanded to 140 million by early July 2013 and to 200 million by July 21.[15] 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.[16] NHN Company representatives promptly announced plans to reach 300 million by further expansion in East Asia, Spain, and Chile.[17] In April 2014, NAVER Korea announced that LINE has reached 400 million worldwide users[18]


  • Multiplatform[19]
  • Optional address book syncing
  • Real-time confirmation when messages are sent and received
  • Share photos, videos and music with other users
  • Send current or any specific location
  • Send emoji, stickers and emoticons to friends
  • Create and join groups where you can chat and share media
  • Bulletin boards (up to 100 people at once) for groups
  • Add friends through the use of QR code
  • Add friends by shaking their phones simultaneously
  • Direct pop-out message box for reading and replying
  • Timeline and home page features on iOS and Android
  • Additional access via multiple personal computers (Windows or Mac OS)
  • Personalized themes
  • Web-based app (discontinued on December 2012)
  • Flash sales[20]


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.[21]


  • Single-device only. It is not possible to use the same LINE account on multiple devices, e.g. a tablet and a phone. The only exception is that it is possible to use the same account on the PC version as well as on one additional device. The app version can only be used on a single device.[22]

Related applications[edit]

Line Camera[edit]

Provides users with the ability to decorate photos and share with friends via SNS. The photo database features over 700 Line stickers and over 100 frames, and these pictures can also be shared on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.[23]

Line Card[edit]

Allows users to send and share cards for celebrations such as birthdays and anniversaries. Users can also add a personal message.[24]

Line Brush[edit]

Line Brush is a painter app that allows users to edit their pictures with 27 style brushes and 15 photo brushes, and fine details can be adjusted. Initially available on the iOS system,[25] the app was later made available for Android devices.[26]


The application has inspired two anime; one normal-length anime (23–26 minutes per episode, airing one per week) and a web anime. The anime features the characters from its stickers: Moon, James, Brown, and Cony.

LINE Offline[edit]

Line Offline: Salaryman is a web anime that features 5 minute-long episodes with 3D technology. The story is set in the fictional Line Corporation office and the characters are salarymen.

LINE Town[edit]

LINE Town episodes last between 24 and 26 minutes. Stories are set in a fictional town where the characters reside. The opening theme song is Aiueongaku♬ (あいうえおんがく♬?) by Greeeen whilst the ending is "millefeuille nights" by Shōko Nakagawa.

LINE in popular culture[edit]

On December 16, 2012 the Line application was shown in rap artist Big Sean's music video for the song "Guap".[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Line Hits 200 Million Users, Adding 100 Million in Just 6 Months". Tech In Asia. 23 July 2013. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  2. ^ Akky Akimoto, 2013-12-17, Looking at 2013′s Japanese social-media scene, The Japan Times
  3. ^ "LINE is Now Available for BlackBerry!". LINE Official Blog. LINE Global. 17 August 2012. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  4. ^ "LINE for Nokia 'Asha' Device Scheduled to be released in March 2013!". LINE Official Blog. LINE Global. 26 February 2013. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ Rick Martin (13 June 2012). "NHN Japan Launches Popular Line App for Windows Phone". Yahoo! Sports. Yahoo! Inc. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  7. ^ Scott DeVaney (4 February 2014). "LINE Lands on Firefox Marketplace". Mozilla Apps Blog. Mozilla Foundation. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c
  9. ^ a b Saito, Mari (16 August 2012). "Born from Japan disasters, Line app sets sights on U.S., China". Reuters. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  10. ^ admin (1 November 2011). "Naver Line App is Back Online in App store". My Phone Daily. WordPress. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  11. ^ Esen Sagynov (2012). "The Story behind LINE App Development". Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  12. ^ "Line messaging app doubles size in seven months, has 300 million users". Retrieved November 25, 2013. 
  13. ^ Dr. Serkan Toto (4 July 2012). "LINE App Gets More Social With "Home" And "Timeline" Features [Social Networks]". Dr. Serkan Toto - Japan Mobile And Social Games Consulting. Dr. Serkan Toto - Japan Mobile And Social Games Consulting. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  14. ^ Josh Robert Nay (19 January 2013). "Line VoIP and Messaging App Now Has More Than 100 Million Users". TruTower. TruTower. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  15. ^ "LINE exceeds 200 million users worldwide!". 23 July 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  16. ^ "Number of registered LINE app users in selected countries as of February 2014 (in millions)". statista. 
  17. ^ John Ure (7 July 2013). "Asia’s Internet challenge". Live Mint & The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  18. ^ "Line app tops 400 million users - The China Post". The China Post. 3 April 2014. Retrieved 3 April 2014. 
  19. ^ "LINE : Free Calls & Messages - download". 
  20. ^ Wu, Jeffrey (29 July 2014). "Chat app Line plans 'flash sales' expansion in Southeast Asia". Central News Agency. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  21. ^ "Taiwan market has great potential for Line". ZDNet. 27 November 2013. Retrieved 10 December 2013. 
  22. ^ "FAQ: Can I use the same LINE account from multiple devices?". Retrieved December 30, 2013. 
  23. ^ Rick Martin (13 April 2012). "With 28 Million Using Line VoIP App, NHN Japan Launches ‘Line Camera’". Tech In Asia. Tech In Asia. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ PRNewswire (27 July 2012). "NHN Japan Releases 'LINE Brush' -- Official Drawing App for LINE for iPhone, iPad" (Press release). dna. Diligent Media Corporation Ltd. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  26. ^ Erez Zukerman (28 May 2013). "Create Fun Doodles And Paint Over Photos With Free Line Brush for Android". MakeUseOf. MakeUseOf. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  27. ^ BigSeanVEVO (16 December 2012). "Big Sean - Guap (Explicit)" (Video upload). YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 

External links[edit]