Line (software)

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LINE New App Icon (2020-12).png
Screenshot featuring the "LINE Friends" stickers
Screenshot featuring the "LINE Friends" stickers
Developer(s)LINE Corporation
Initial releaseJune 23, 2011 (2011-06-23)
Stable release(s)
Android10.21.5 / December 16, 2020; 35 days ago (2020-12-16)[1]
iOS10.21.3 / January 5, 2021; 15 days ago (2021-01-05)[2]
Windows6.5.4 Build 2441 / January 14, 2021; 6 days ago (2021-01-14)[3]
macOS6.5.3 / January 11, 2021; 9 days ago (2021-01-11)[4]
Chrome2.4.1 / December 22, 2020; 29 days ago (2020-12-22)[5]
Operating system
PlatformSmartphone, PC, iPad, Smartwatch
Available in17 languages[2]
List of languages
English, Japanese, Korean, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Indonesian, Malay, Arabic, Turkish
TypeInstant messaging, Social networking service
LicenseProprietary software

LINE is a freeware app 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. In addition, Line is a platform providing various services including digital wallet as Line Pay, news stream as Line Today, video on demand as Line TV, and digital comic distribution as Line Manga and Line Webtoon. The service is operated by Line Corporation, a Tokyo-based subsidiary of South Korean internet search engine company Naver Corporation.

As its competitor Kakao dominated the South Korean messaging market, Naver Corporation launched a messenger application NAVER Talk in February 2011 in South Korea. However, because the South Korean messaging market was dominated by Kakao, the business of NAVER Talk was suppressed. Naver Corporation was expanding their messaging application and targeted to other countries' messaging markets which have not been developed yet. Naver Corporation released their messaging application, which changed its name to 'LINE', to the Japanese messaging market in 2011. As LINE became a huge success, finally NAVER combined NAVER Talk and LINE in March 2012.[6][7] They changed NAVER's Japanese branch name from NHN JAPAN to LINE Corporation. LINE reached 100 million users within eighteen months and 200 million users only six months later.[8] 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.[9][10] In February 2015, it announced the 600 million users mark had been passed and 700 million were expected by the end of the year.[11] It is the most popular messaging application in Japan.[12] It is also popular in Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia and Turkmenistan.[12][13]

Line was originally developed as a mobile application for Android and iOS smartphones. The service has since expanded to BlackBerry OS (August 2012),[14] Nokia Asha (Asia and Oceania, March 2013),[15][16] Windows Phone (July 2013),[17] Firefox OS (February 2014),[18] iOS tablets (October 2014), and as a Chrome Browser Application (via the Chrome Web Store). At one point, Line was available as a website (non-browser-app[clarification needed (see talk)]), but it has since been discontinued. The application also exists in versions for laptop and desktop computers using the Microsoft Windows and macOS platforms.


Line began as a disaster response. In March 2011, the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami damaged Japan's telecommunications infrastructure nationwide, obliging employees at NHN Japan, a unit of South Korea's NHN Corporation, 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 2011.[19]

The application proved hugely popular, and by late October, Line experienced an unexpected server overload.[20] 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.[21] Within eighteen months of its release, Line reached 100 million users; six months later, it reached 200 million[22][8][19] and by November 25, 2013, was used by 300 million users.[23]

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 updates in social networking services such as Facebook.[24]

On 6 February 2013, the success of Line led NHN Japan to announce a new spinoff company named Line Corporation which 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 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 Corporation.[22]

Market share[edit]

Line began in Spring 2011 as a communication system for NHN Japan employees. It then saw explosive growth when released to the public in June of that year. By 18 January 2013, Line had been downloaded 100 million times worldwide.[25] The number expanded to 140 million by early July 2013 and to 200 million by July 21.[26] As of June 2016, Japan claimed 68 million users while Thailand had 33 million.[27] As of February 2014, Indonesia had 20 million users, Taiwan 17 million, while India and Spain had 16 million each.[28] NHN representatives announced plans to reach 300 million by further expansion in East Asia, Spain, and Chile.[29] In April 2014, Naver announced that Line had reached 400 million worldwide users,[30] and by 2017 this had grown to 700 million.[31]


Line is an application that works on multiple platforms and has access via multiple personal computers (Windows or macOS). 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 the current or any specific location, voice audio, emojis, stickers and emoticons to friends. Users 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 (from both involved devices and Line servers) after a time set by the user.[32] The application also makes free voice and video calls. Users can also chat and share media in a group by creating and joining groups that have up to 500 people. Chats also provide bulletin boards on which users 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.

In January 2015, Line Taxi was released in Tokyo as a competitor to Uber.[33][34][35] Line launched a new android app called "Popcorn buzz" in June 2015. The app facilitates group calls with up to 200 members.[36] In June a new Emoji keyboard was also released for iOS devices, which provides a Line-like experience with the possibility to add stickers.[37] In September 2015 a new Android launcher was released on the Play Store, helping the company to promote its own services through the new user interface.[38]


Line 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 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.

The original default characters and stickers, known as the LINE Friends, were created by Kang Byeongmok, also known as "Mogi", in 2011.[39][40]

There are over 1 billion stickers sent by worldwide users on a daily basis.[41]


NHN Japan created LINE Games in 2011. 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. The game range includes puzzles, match-three, side-scroller, musical performance, simulation, battle, and spot-the-difference games. In September 2013, Line Corporation announced its games had been downloaded 200 million times worldwide.[42]

On July 10, 2017, LINE Games acquired NextFloor Corporation, developers of Dragon Flight and Destiny Child.[43] On January 5, 2017, LINE Games was announced as the publisher for Hundred Soul (formerly known as Project 100) by Hound 13.[44]

On December 12, 2018, LINE Games held a media event called LPG (LINE Games-Play-Game) to introduce its games for 2019. Mobile games announced include: Exos Heroes (by OOZOO), Ravenix: The Card Master (also by OOZOO), Dark Summoners (by SkeinGlobe), Project PK (by Rock Square), Super String (by Factorial Games). Project NM by Space Dive was also announced for PC. Games to be released on mobile and PC include: Project NL (by MeerKat Games) and Uncharted Waters Origins (by LINE Games and Koei Tecmo).[45]

On 10 Jul 2019, Nintendo released Dr. Mario World co-developed by LINE Games.[46] On July 18, 2019, First Summoner developed by SkeinGlobe was released.

Line Pay[edit]

Line introduced Line Pay worldwide on December 16, 2014. The service allows users to request and send money from users in their contact list and make mobile payments in store.[47] The service has since expanded to allow other features such as offline wire transfers when making purchases and ATM transactions like depositing and withdrawing money. Unlike other Line services, Line Pay is offered worldwide through the Line app.

Line Taxi[edit]

Line Taxi was launched in January 2015 in partnership with Nihon Kotsu, a local taxi service in Japan.[48] Just like Line Pay, Line Taxi is not offered as a separate app but rather through the Line app where users can request a taxi and automatically pay for it when they connect their account to Line Pay.[49]

Line Wow[edit]

Announced alongside Line Pay and Line Taxi, a service that allows users to instantly access delivery services for registered food or products and services.[50]

Line Today[edit]

A news hub integrated in the Line app.

Line Shopping[edit]

A referral program for online shopping. Customers get extra discount or earn Line Points by purchasing through the Line Shopping service.

Line Lite[edit]

Line Lite
LINE Lite logo.svg
Developer(s)Line Corporation
Stable release
2.16.1 / 2020-09-28 [51]
Repository Edit this at Wikidata
Operating systemAndroid
Size8.82 MB Edit this on Wikidata

In 2015, a lower-overhead Android app was released for emerging markets called Line Lite. This supports messages and calls[52] but not themes or timeline.[53] It became available worldwide in August 2015.[54]


Line accounts can be accessed on only 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.[55][56]

If "LINE Lite" for Android is installed and activated, the user is told they will be "logged out of the normal LINE". This message does not make clear that it is impossible to log back in to the normal LINE, and the normal LINE will delete all history data when next launched.[57]


In August 2013, it was possible to intercept a Line chat session at the network level using packet capture software and to reconstruct it on a PC. Messages were sent in clear text to Line's server when on cellular data but encrypted when using Wi-Fi most of the time.[58]

Until February 2016, it was also possible to "clone" an iPhone from a backup, and then use the "cloned" iPhone to access the same Line account as used by the original iPhone. This loophole was widely rumored (but never proven) to have been used to intercept Line messages between the popular Japanese television personality Becky and her married romantic partner Enon Kawatani; the intercepted messages were published in the magazine Shukan Bunshun and led to the temporary suspension of Becky's television career.[59]

In July 2016, Line Corporation turned on end-to-end encryption by default for all Line users.[60] It had earlier been available as an opt-in feature since October 2015.[61] The app uses the ECDH protocol for client-to-client encryption.[61] In August 2016, Line expanded its end-to-end encryption to also encompass its group chats, voice calls and video calls.[62]


Line suppressed content in China to conform with government censorship.[63] 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.[64]

Line publicly confirmed the practice in December 2013.[65] However, by 2014, access to Line chat servers has been entirely blocked by the Great Firewall, while the company still makes revenue in China from brick-and-mortar stores.[66][67]

In Indonesia, Line has responded to pressure from the Indonesian Communication and Information Ministry to remove emojis and stickers it believes make reference to homosexuality, for example the emoji "two men holding hands". Line issued a public statement on the issue: "Line regrets the incidents of some stickers which are considered sensitive by many people. We ask for your understanding because at the moment we are working on this issue to remove the stickers".[68]

In Thailand, Line is suspected of responding to pressure from the Thai government and, after previously approving 'Red Buffalo' stickers, which had been used to refer to the Red Shirts political faction, including by the Red Shirts themselves, removed the stickers.[69][70]

In Russia, on May 3, 2017, access to Line chat servers has been entirely blocked by the Roskomnadzor and also added the Line servers to the Unified Register of Banned Sites, after which Russian users began to experience problems receiving and sending messages.[71]

In popular culture[edit]

On November 20, 2012, Line was shown in Far East Movement's music video, featuring Sidney Samson, for the song "Change Your Life". DJ Virman is seen chatting with Sidney Samson at the middle of the music video.[72]

On December 16, 2012, the Line application was shown in American rap artist Big Sean's music video for the song "Guap".[73]

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.[74]

In 2014, the LINE app was featured in Cycle 21 of America's Next Top Model.

The app had a significant presence in the popular Korean TV drama My Love from the Star.

The app is heavily featured in the visual novel Steins;Gate 0 under the name "Rine". Naver Corporation and Mages also partnered during the Steins;Gate 5th Anniversary Goods Project.

In the 2017 anime Tsuki ga Kirei, the Line app is the protagonists' main way of communication.[75]

The 2017 original anime series Just Because! uses Line extensively throughout the series as a method of communication between characters.

In the Webtoon 'Age Matters' by Enjelicious, Line is referred to as Lime Corp, a company which the protagonist Daniel is the CEO of.

In 2019 it was featured in Don't Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro.

In the visual novel Tsuki no Kanata de Aimashou, LINE was referenced as LIME.

Related products[edit]

Line Friends[edit]

Line Friends Store in Hysan Place, Hong Kong

Line Friends are featured characters that are shown in stickers of the application. They include Brown, Cony, Sally, James, Moon, Boss, Jessica, Edward, Leonard, Choco, Pangyo and Rangers. Two anime series, LINE OFFLINE and LINE TOWN, were produced in 2013, picturing the Line Friends as employees for the fictional Line Corporation.

Line Man[edit]

On-demand assistant for food and messenger delivery services in Bangkok.

Line TV[edit]

A video on demand service operating in Taiwan and Thailand.


There are physical stores in Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, U.S. and a Korean online store to purchase LINE Friends merchandise.[76] Occasionally, LINE will have pop-up or temporary stores globally.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "LINE: Free Calls & Messages - Apps on Google Play". Google Play. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  2. ^ a b "LINE". App Store. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  3. ^ "Get LINE". Microsoft Store. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  4. ^ "LINE". Mac App Store. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  5. ^ "LINE". Chrome Web Store. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  6. ^ "네이버, 네이버톡 접고 라인에 올인". Hankyung. 15 November 2011. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  7. ^ "네이버 talk". Retrieved 2019-11-02.
  8. ^ a b "Line Hits 200 Million Users, Adding 100 Million in Just 6 Months". Tech In Asia. 23 July 2013. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  9. ^ Horwitz, Josh (9 October 2014). "Line finally reveals it has 170 million monthly active users".
  10. ^ Akky Akimoto, 2013-12-17, Looking at 2013′s Japanese social-media scene, The Japan Times
  11. ^ "Number of Line users to top 700 mil. this year". Korea Times. 8 February 2015. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Line is Now Available for BlackBerry!". Line Official Blog. Line Global. 17 August 2012. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  15. ^ "Line for Nokia 'Asha' Device Scheduled to be released in March 2013!". Line Official Blog. Line Global. 26 February 2013. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ Rick Martin (13 June 2012). "NHN Japan Launches Popular Line App for Windows Phone". Yahoo! Sports. Yahoo! Inc. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  18. ^ Scott DeVaney (4 February 2014). "Line Lands on Firefox Marketplace". Mozilla Apps Blog. Mozilla Foundation. Archived from the original on 11 October 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  19. ^ a b Saito, Mari (16 August 2012). "Born from Japan disasters, Line app sets sights on U.S., China". Reuters. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  20. ^ "Naver Line App is Back Online in App store". My Phone Daily. WordPress. 1 November 2011. Archived from the original on 20 May 2013. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  21. ^ Esen Sagynov (2012). "The Story behind Line App Development". Archived from the original on 16 August 2013. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  22. ^ a b Brian, Matt (6 February 2013). "NHN Japan Spins Off LINE, Targets International Expansion".
  23. ^ "Line messaging app doubles size in seven months, has 300 million users". Retrieved November 25, 2013.
  24. ^ 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.
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  29. ^ John Ure (7 July 2013). "Asia's Internet challenge". Live Mint & The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
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  32. ^ Jon Russel (22 July 2014). "Messaging app Line gets serious about privacy with Telegram-inspired 'hidden chat' feature". TheNextWeb. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  33. ^ Vincent, James (8 January 2015). "Japanese messaging app Line has launched a taxi service in Tokyo". The Verge. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  34. ^ Cohen, Dave (6 January 2015). "Line Taxi launches, gives Uber first major challenger in Japan". Tech In Asia. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
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  36. ^
  37. ^ Russell, Jon. "Line Takes Aims At The U.S. Market With An Emoji Keyboard App For iOS".
  38. ^ Russell, Jon. "Messaging Firm Line Introduces A Launcher App For Android Devices".
  39. ^ "스마트 폰 속 이모티콘, 세상 밖으로". 시사매거진 바이트. Retrieved 28 April 2017.
  40. ^ "'라인(LINE)'은 일본製일까 한국製일까". 프레스맨 (in Korean). Retrieved 28 April 2017.
  41. ^ "Taiwan market has great potential for Line". ZDNet. 27 November 2013. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  42. ^ "【2億DL記念!】9/13からLINEのゲームが続々キャンペーン実施!". Livedoor (in Japanese). 13 September 2013. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  43. ^ MarketScreener. "LINE : Establishes LINE GAMES, Acquires NextFloor | MarketScreener". Retrieved 2019-08-03.
  44. ^ cinderboy (2017-01-05). "Hundred Soul – Gorgeous action mobile RPG finds publisher". MMO Culture. Retrieved 2019-08-03.
  45. ^ cinderboy (2018-12-12). "LINE Games – Publisher reveals several new mobile and PC games for global market". MMO Culture. Retrieved 2019-08-03.
  46. ^ "'Dr. Mario World' from Nintendo and LINE Has Released a Day Early on the App Store". TouchArcade. 2019-07-09. Retrieved 2019-08-03.
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  48. ^ "Line Launches A Taxi Booking Service In Japan Because Chat Apps Have Become Platforms". TechCrunch. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
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  50. ^ "Messaging giant Line to launch mobile payment service in Japan". ZDNet. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
  51. ^ "LINE Lite: Free Calls & Messages APKs - APKMirror". APKMirror. Retrieved 2020-09-28.
  52. ^
  53. ^
  54. ^
  55. ^ "FAQ: Can I use the same Line account from multiple devices?". Retrieved December 30, 2013.
  56. ^ "Help Center - LINE".
  57. ^ "Unable to use device. It looks like you are using this account on another device. All your LINE data on this device will be deleted." and only an OK button is presented.
  58. ^ Sambandaraksa, Don (28 August 2013). "LINE vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attack". Archived from the original on 6 January 2018. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  59. ^ "LINE"盗み見"に対策 「クローンiPhone」不可能に". ITmedia News. 22 February 2016. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  60. ^ Sawers, Paul (30 June 2016). "Ahead of IPO, mobile messaging giant Line introduces end-to-end encryption by default". VentureBeat. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  61. ^ a b JI (13 October 2015). "New generation of safe messaging: "Letter Sealing"". LINE Engineers' Blog. LINE Corporation. Archived from the original on 8 July 2016. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  62. ^ Shin, Ki Bin (11 August 2016). "The next step for even safer messaging: Letter Sealing". Line Corporation. Archived from the original on 2 October 2016. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  63. ^ "Asia Chats: Investigating Regionally-based Keyword Censorship in LINE". 14 November 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  64. ^ "Asia Chats: LINE Censored Keywords Update". 30 April 2014. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  65. ^ "Asia Chats: LINE Corporation Responds". 6 December 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 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.
  66. ^ "Chat apps hit by China disruption". 4 July 2014 – via
  67. ^ Horwitz, Josh. "One year after the government banned it, Line is still in China—selling lattes". Quartz.
  68. ^ "Indonesia bans 'gay' emojis on messaging apps". 12 February 2016. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  69. ^ Editor. "New Thai buffalo stickers for LINE |". Retrieved 2020-05-30.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  70. ^ Limited, Bangkok Post Public Company. "Red buffalo sticker banned". Retrieved 2020-05-30.
  71. ^ "当局がLINE禁止!! 通信情報提供せず処分". 6 May 2017. Retrieved 15 Oct 2020.
  72. ^ "Change Your Life". FarEastMovementVEVO. 20 November 2012 – via YouTube.
  73. ^ BigSeanVEVO (16 December 2012). "Big Sean - Guap (Explicit)" (Video upload). YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  74. ^ "Annalisa - Sento solo il presente (Videoclip Ufficiale) - YouTube". Warner Music Group (WMG) Italy. 16 May 2014. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  75. ^ "Tsukigakirei on Crunchyroll". Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  76. ^ "LINE FRIENDS".

External links[edit]