When it comes to talking about mobile instant messaging (IM) services in China, WeChat is usually the number one name on people’s lips. But South Korean internet portal operator Naver Corp. believes it can edge in on the Chinese market with its messaging service Line. The Wall Street Journal reports that despite Line’s strong performance in East Asia, critics are skeptical of the app's ability to muscle into WeChat’s stronghold.
Line, founded in 2011, has garnered more than 400 million users worldwide since it started. The Wall Street Journal reports that while Line has done well, achieving $5.1 billion in sales last year, it will take a lot more to compete with WeChat, which has 300 million monthly active users alone in China. “WeChat has achieved a critical mass and is benefiting from the network effects that come with its early-mover advantage,” says Shiv Putcha, an analyst from international data analysis company IDC in a Wall Street Journal article. “Everyone you know is on WeChat, so why switch?”
To set itself apart from its Chinese peers, Line plans to introduce what it calls the creators market, which allows users to create their own stickers to use and sell online. Hyunbin Kang, head of business development at Line, tells The Wall Street Journal in the video embedded above that the company has also promoted its app through a TV drama featuring popular Korean celebrities using the app as their main means of communications. “The download of Line in China has increased significantly after the TV drama was shown as users want to share the emotional feelings of the Korean celebrities,” Kang says.