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Popular Japanese chat app, Line takes aim at the U.S.

Popular Japanese chat app, Line takes aim at the U.S.
There is no shortage of chat and messaging apps to be had on any mobile platform. There is a lot of competition in the space, and there are a few apps that stand out among the rest - WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Skype, and, if you live in Japan, Line. Line is big in Japan, and it believes its popularity can translate in the U.S..

Line doesn't exactly have one specific feature that stands out. The real power of Line is in possibly being the best amalgamation of your favorite communications app, all in one. This means you get the standard free chatting, but you also get:

  1. Free calls and video chats (like Skype, Viber, Facebook Messenger, etc)
  2. Stickers (like FB Messenger, Path, etc)
  3. A private timeline for photos and video (like Instagram Direct)
  4. Self-destructing messages (like Snapchat)

And, maybe best of all, Line is fully cross-platform (and yes, that includes Windows Phone and BlackBerry). But, the real aim of Line isn't just to offer you a great messaging service (frankly, we found the app UI to be confusing and unintuitive), but also to drag you into the whole ecosystem of Line apps and games. The Line messaging app has options for themes and the aforementioned stickers, but you either have to pay real money for those, or gain credits by downloading other Line apps all of which are incredibly cutesy (annoyingly so for most, unless you really love Japanese culture). And, there is a huge array of games in the Line library, including puzzlers, racers, monster hunters, soccer management, and much more. 

The thing is that Line has created an incredible brand with merchandising and corporate tie-ins. There are games and sticker sets in partnership with Disney, soccer teams like Real Madrid, and Paul McCartney. There is a lot going on here, and Line can be quite a fun app when you get into it. Of course, that is the real barrier. If your friends don't use it, neither will you. Line is huge around the world, but as you can see in the introduction video it put out last year, it is working with a very Japanese sensibility that doesn't always translate to the U.S. Line has enough going for it that it could mount in impressive marketing campaign, and it truly believes it can be the next Nintendo; so, keep your eyes peeled, because Line is coming.

Download: Line (Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry)
source: The Verge

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