Line just lost even more users. But that’s apparently fine.
Line, the messaging app out of Japan, ended last year on a downer – it lost three million of its monthly active users. And the same thing has just happened again, with Line telling Tech in Asia today that it’s another three million down, dipping to 214 million.
After spending 2016 stuck in a rut, Line is now back down to 2015 levels.
The US$7.6 billion company surprisingly did not disclose its total number of active users in its latest earnings report, which came out towards the end of last month – the first time it has not revealed that figure since late 2014. When I asked a Line Corp representative today, the individual explained that the total will only be revealed on a “reactive” basis in the future – i.e., when someone actually asks.
The reason for the change is that Line Corp is focusing on its active user base in its four most popular countries – Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Indonesia. That number is going up healthily:
Line – which makes money from ads and content in an array of spin-off apps and services such as Line Pay, Line Music, and Line Moments – focuses its business interests on those four markets, therefore those are where most of the money comes from.
So as long as Line is growing in those four places, the company seems unperturbed by the loss of global users to the increasingly indispensable WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. At least that’s the picture the company paints in public.
Indeed, Line’s earnings for January to March show the numbers going the right way, with revenue rising 16.2 percent over the year prior. It comes after 2016 saw record highs for the Tokyo-based firm, with revenue hitting US$1.2 billion.
But it’s clear now that for Brown, Cony, Sally, James, Moon and all the other Line mascots, the global fun is over. Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Indonesia are all that’s left of the party.
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