Message App Line Hits 300M Registered Users, Up From 200M 4-Months Ago — Gunning For 500M In 2014

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Line has announced it’s added another 100 million people to its registered user count in just four months, pushing it past the 300 million user mark globally. It revealed the new numbers at a press conference today in Tokyo, attended by TechCrunch Japan.

The messaging app platform maker, which started off in Japan back in 2011 — devising a series of cute sticker characters to attract an initially young user-base — also says its growth rate is “accelerating exponentially”, noting that it took 19 months for it to achieve its first 100 million registered users, six months to rack up the second, and just four months to add a third 100 million.

CEO Akira Morikawa said it’s targeting a 500 million registered user milestone next year.

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Despite these impressive-sounding stats it’s worth underlining that these are registered users, not monthly active users — the latter, which Line has only ever reported for its home market of Japan, being a far more useful metric for measuring engagement with this type of app.

Line also counts the same registered user multiple times if they are using its service on difference smartphones which likely inflates its registered user count. Beyond that, people downloading the app and signing up to try it out a few times before stopping using it are also continuing to beef up its user stat, so despite what looks on the surface to be barreling growth it’s likely not as impressive as it seems.

Line rivals WhatsApp and WeChat do both report monthly active user counts — with more than 350 million MAUs, and circa 272 million respectively, so it’s easy to see why Line wants to shout about the largest number it can. Line has previously said its MAUs in Japan are 80% of its registered users there. But that is presumably the high water mark for its registered to active user ratio.

Line said today that outside the “strong foothold” it has in East Asia, the number of registered users it has are “growing steadily” in Spanish-speaking regions including Spain, Mexico and Latin America.

It also said it is focusing on gathering new users in India, Turkey, and West European countries including France, Germany and Italy by “conducting localized promotional activities and strengthening partnerships with local mobile network operators and device manufacturers”.

Line’s localised promotional activities have included a TV advertising campaign in Spain using  local actors Michelle Jenner and Hugo Silva, and a marketing partnership in India with Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif.

In the latter market Line previously announced it was able to acquire 10 million registered users in three months — although Line’s cost per user acquisition is likely high, based on its high-profile marketing activity.

As well as its cutesy stickers, Line offers games for download via its platform. It said today that global downloads across all its game have now passed 220 million. Game-related payments are its primary revenue stream, making up 60 percent of its revenue (Line is now bringing in nearly $100 million in revenue a quarter).

At today’s press conference, Line was also asked about ongoing IPO rumours — but one again declined to put any meat on those bones, saying only that it’s one possibility it’s looking at.

On the U.S.  market, which Line entered at the start of this year but isn’t, apparently, prioritising for growth right now, it said: “It is necessary that users understand the value of our service first.”

Line said its app is in use in 230 countries globally, and is ranked first in the free app category in 60 countries.