Line (Application)

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Line app.png
"Line Application" [url LINE]
Type Messaging Application
Launch Date March 2011
Status Active
Product Line product
Platform iOS, Android
Website Line Official Site

Line, also known as LINE, is a free, instant messaging application for mobile devices and PCs. The app allows users to share pictures, videos, and stickers as well as make voice and video calls.

Particularly popular in East Asia, it boasts having over 600 million users across the globe [1] and 216 million monthly users. As of February 2016, LINE is the fastest-growing global social media.[2]. During Q4 of 2015, LINE had a monthly user count of 215 million users. It is often compared to KakaoTalk, WeChat, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. As of February 2016, the application has surpassed its competitors to being the most commonly used mobile application in Taiwan [3]. The popularity of LINE reflects the general increase in social media and communication technologies on mobile devices.


LINE was created under and owned by the South Korean company Next Human Network (NHN), now Naver Corporation and NHN Entertainment.[4] However, LINE is based in Japan, where it first introduced the mobile device to the market. It was created in response to the Tohoku tsunami and earthquake of 2011. During the Tohoku tsunami and earthquake, many telecommunication channels were down. LINE was developed by NHN and played a role in allowing people to communicate through Wifi services still intact.[5] In an effort to expand, LINE Plus Corporation was created as a subsidiary of LINE Corporation. [6] In July 2014, Naver corporation introduced LINE to the global market.[7] This was partially due to the success the Naver search engine found after becoming more popular than Google's service.

During July 2015, Naver unveiled a lite version of the application specifically for emerging mobile markets.[8] This is particularly for devices and countries with weak Wifi infrastructure, which makes the original version of LINE more difficult and costly to use. The lite version accommodates these needs.

On February 10th, 2016, Naver won the right to own the domain name "", after court ruling that the opposing party was misusing the site. [9]

On February 16th, 2016, LINE announced the termination of their internet streaming music player, MixRadio. [10]


Line makes most of its revenue on its stickers services through its sticker store as well as LINE games. Line's sticker store also has content from official and unofficial creators. The LINE sticker characters include Brown, Cony, Moon, and James, and are often depicted in amusing situations.[11]

Image of Original LINE Characters

Over the years, LINE has added several different features and has grown immensely. One of LINE features is a location sharing addition.[12] this would allow users to check in with their locations, servicing parents and children in particular. In addition, LINE in 2015 also added a Chrome extension version of the application to allow users to chat on desktop devices.[13] LINE introduced end to end message encryption to better support the needs of its users.[14] In February 2016, LINE introduced a partnership with the Indonesian motorcycle taxi company, Go-Jek, allowing users to order taxis through the application [15].

LINE has introduced shopping through its store for real life products. In February, it launched a grocery store on its application. As of November 2015, LINE announced that its Thailand users will be able to send their friends. [16]

Popular Culture

From 2013-2014, LINE was showcased in the hit Korean Drama, My Love from the Stars. Due to the immense popularity of this show, LINE saw a surge of a 10 million user increase after the finale of the series.[17]

In 2014, as part of an advertising campaign, LINE created a 3 episode mini-series. The story was about a South Korean man and a Chinese woman who fall in love while communicating over line. While this was an advertisement, it became an extremely popular media.

LINE, with the beauty company Missha, launched a joint makeup line featuring the different original LINE characters.[18] This shows the cultural impact of the site.

Ethical Issues

LINE Music.

In 2014, LINE introduced a streaming service called LINE Music.[19] This service allows users to pay a flat fee and listen to unlimited amounts of music, with a catalog of over 1 million songs. This raises similar problems to the issues surrounding Spotify in particular, another music streaming application. The main issue surrounds improper compensation to musical artists for their work. LINE was not the first mobile streaming application on the Japanese market.

This is an ongoing issue for LINE corporation as it continues to expand its outreach. Whether it complies with each country's cultural norms and expectations is yet to be decided. In addition, LINE must decide whether it will change its brand and brand culture in order to appeal to a wider audience. In July 2015, the Chinese government blocked Line from its market. However, much of its merchandise can be purchased at SOHO, a Chinese department store.[20]

Sticker Copyright

Line's sticker store contains products from artists and designers from all over the world. The LINE official stickers often depict humorous situations that are arguably catered for more of a Japanese audience and even Asian audience. Due to this cultural divide, LINE is currently having difficulty breaking into the Western market. In addition, LINE is also facing issues with the social acceptability of these stickers in different countries it provides its service. Some of these stickers include themes with LGBT characters. The Indonesian president's, Joko Widodo, administration required messaging apps to remove these stickers on their site.[21]

In order to address issues of infrastructure and accessibility, LINE's decision to create a lite version of its messaging service. Since many of its users from countries where they are expected to pay for data plans, messaging services use a lot of data. Therefore, by making messages more affordable for many of its users, it continues to make its product usable to smartphone owners.

Friends Management

Line’s friend management system was once controversial when the app allowed users to use a phone number to directly add a user as a friend. Line users complained that this feature presented a privacy issue since it made personal information available to strangers. Abuse of this feature led to many users reporting instances of harassment. When users wanted to “unfriend” someone, they would not have the option to completely delete the friend from their contacts but only hide the friend from their contacts list. Although the company explained that such settings were for good purpose, the inconvenience and potential negative implications it brought apparently overweighed the positive expectations since it violated the users’ intention. The good news is that the company has fixed most of the flaws on friend management afterwards. [22]


  1. LINE in Google Store
  2. Line is The Wall Street Journal's fastest-growing platform
  3. Line tops III app usage survey in Taiwan
  4. Naver Company Info
  5. US Naver Line Strategy
  6. Bloomberg Line
  7. After beating Google, Korea's Naver goes global with messaging app Line
  8. Line Lite
  9. Naver wins suit over domain name ‘’
  10. Mix Radio to be Shut Down by Japanese Company Line
  11. LINE Official Characters
  12. Line Location Sharing App
  13. Line Chrome Extension
  14. Line Adds End-To-End Encryption To Its Mobile Messaging App
  15. You Can Now Hail A Go-Jek Taxi From The Line App
  16. Japan's Line to launch online grocery shopping in Thailand, plans to expand
  17. Line in My Love from the Stars
  18. Missha x LINE
  19. Line Music
  20. One year after the government banned its chat app, Line is still in China—selling lattes and tote bags
  21. Whatsapp, Line warned over same-sex emoticons in Indonesia
  22. How to delete Line Friends