communication system was proposed to NHN Japan by Lee Hae Jin, the Chief Strategy Officer of NHN, now renamed to Naver Corporation.
It first launched in Japan in 2011, reaching 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.In February 2015, it announced the 600 million mark had been passed and 700 million were expected by the end of the year.
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) iOS tablets (October 2014), and as a Chrome Browser Application (via the Chrome App Store). At one point Line was available as a website (non-browser-app), but that has been discontinued. 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 updates 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 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 200 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.
In January 2015, Line Taxi was released in Tokyo as a competitor to Uber.Line launched a new android app called "Popcorn buzz" in June 2015. The app facilitates group calls with up to 200 members. In June a new Emoji keyboard was also released for iOS devices, which provides a Line-like experience with the possibility to add stickers. In September,2015 a new Android Launcher was released on the Play Store, helping the Company to promote its own services with a friendly and simple UI.
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 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. Default stickers were designed by South Korean artist, Kang Byung-Mok, also known as illustrator Mogi.
There are over 1 billion stickers sent by worldwide users on a daily basis.
NHN Japan created LINE GAME 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. Games range from puzzles, match-three, side-scrollers, musical performance, simulation, battle, and spot-the-difference games. Line Corporation announced its games had been downloaded 200 million times worldwide.
Rebecca Bon Bon IncidentIn September, 2012, Crown Creative received the request from the author of a manga "Candy Candy", Yumiko Igarashi, to produce handbags & other products. Unexpectedly, the company didn't do her request but authorized with another Japanese online producer Caerux instead, allowing them to create a pack of stickers about the girl protagonist, her friends and the female French Bulldog, Rebecca Bon Bon with LINE.
The stickers started selling on the 9th of May and about 10 million users fell into the trap. Since Igarashi do not understand the use of computers and do not use smart phones, she didn't know the incident until her friend told her and she began negotiations immediately.
In the process of negotiations, Caerux claimed that a manager of Igarashi had given her to look over and the manager has been quoted she was satisfied, so they think have been authorized. But the manager never actually let Igarashi to look over. Moreover, Igarashi discovered the stickers' lines are different from her original work and the qualities are poor.The manager had been instantly dismissed.
Broking a business dispute, Igarashi told LINE to stop the sale for the counterfeit misappropriation of its nominal, and on October 16 2013 LINE stopped selling these girls stickers, but refused to show the number of users who had purchased them.
From the information from the Crown Creative provided, within five months from May to October 2013, and how were 100,000 users in the move and most buyers are from outside Japan.
Igarashi was very unhappy that LINE had not confessed such event, and criticized LINE had the suspect of cheating consumers. She said her fans bought these fake stickers because they thought the stickers were made by her thus they didn't know they got tricked.
Crown Creative filed a complaint to Igarashi, asking her compensation of 10 million yen. Igarashi also considered filing charges with Crown Creative, Caerux and its nominal LINE theft. Some Igarashi fans also intends to seek compensation to LINE.
LINE said the event was the copyright holder and distributor of contract and copyright issues, which LINE was regardless with this, so LINE would not refund to the users.
- 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.
- The producer of Line is still on debate.