Instant messaging and chatting apps have attained immense popularity in recent times. These applications have steadily carved their own niche in the hearts of customers worldwide. Recently, Facebook took over the top instant messaging app, WhatsApp for a record sum of $19 billion. Not only was this a huge fillip for instant messaging markets across the world, it also pointed out to the increasing relevance of these applications and their competitive edge when it came to chat and messaging based services provided by global biggies like Facebook and Google. Facebook acquired WhatsApp in order to consolidate its presence in emerging markets where customers are thrilled with messaging apps that allow them to communicate without paying a regular fee.
The nominal yearly fee is all you basically need to pay and WhatsApp’s success has spurred the growth of other competitors in this market space, namely WeChat, Line and Viber among others. These instant messaging apps have literally taken the fight to online social media platforms with their huge growth volumes and dedicated customer base. Instant messaging has been one of the biggest innovations and customer oriented service solutions of the new decade. This has literally been a revolution with more and more tech companies looking to jump on to this bandwagon. There are questions regarding overall profitability and revenues however, going by the nominal fee for yearly usage and no advertising incorporation features.
However, this space will soon be revamped after Facebook works out a revenue strategy for WhatsApp over the next few years which will have competitors following suit. The incorporation of advertising or other revenue streams without impacting or disturbing customers is what is being targeted now by companies in this space. Line is another dominant competitor in this instant messaging market and has been taking the fight to WhatsApp for a long period of time. Line has always focused on serving customers better with its brand of innovation and its emphasis on providing more and more services for the customer.
In line with this vision of the company based in Japan, the instant messaging app recently announced the launch of a special data calling feature from March 2014 onwards on its applications. Alongside, this will be on the lines of voice calls made on platforms like Hangout and Skype. Line is looking at tie-ups with landline and mobile phone operators with substantial undercuts on pricing to provide greater benefits to customers. The calling facilities which are to be operational from the month of March will allow Line users to connect with landline phones and mobile phones all over the world.
What is interesting is that Line has announced a unique system of payment revolving around the pay as you go model. There will be two major plans on offer for all Line users which will be valid for a maximum period of 30 days. Alongside, the 30 day plan in Japan, its home base, will be valid for a total of an hour and there will be another plan which possesses call based credits and will cost approximately INR 8 for calls made to mobile phones and INR 1 for calls made to landline phones respectively according to tech experts and industry followers.
This pioneering service model is slated to be unveiled all across the United States of America, Philippines, Spain, Japan, Thailand and Mexico by March 2014. This service is a unique one and was first launched by another competitor, Viber, in the recent past. Alongside, Line has also come up with another pioneering business idea. It will enable customers to market and sell their own customized stickers online through Line’s exclusive Web store. This will be named the Line Creators Market which will be a solely new platform. The web store was launched by the company yesterday. Users can register for the web store without paying a single penny for the same. Alongside, they can sell a total of 42 sticker images which will include one central image, 40 stickers and the image for the sticker tab in chat boxes.
This entire set will be thoroughly reviewed and scrutinized by the company with regard to the meeting of its sticker sales regulations and all other criteria. Once the approval is obtained in this regard, users can start selling their sets of stickers almost immediately to generate revenue. Each and every set of stickers will come for INR 60 at an approximate level. Alongside, about half of this revenue will be deposited directly into the bank accounts of all Line users who manage to sell their sets successfully. These measures have been keenly followed by a host of other competitors and even WhatsApp is looking at introducing a voice service for smartphones across its messaging platform according to Jan Koum, the CEO of the company.
WhatsApp’s voice based services will be available later this year across iPhone and Android platforms and will soon be incorporated into Microsoft, Nokia and Blackberry smartphone versions. Line has come up with this unique business model to cash in on its expertise with regard to stickers and to encourage customers with regard to experiencing and enjoying the instant messaging app in a more versatile manner. Alongside, users can also contact people who do not use the Line instant messaging application. These calls will be entirely in the mould of regular voice calls on phones and there will be special promotional offers and packages offered across Japan. One can also expect special trial packages with discounted rates which will allow users to get a feel of the new services.
Line’s growing sticker business will be benefited by the unique business model brought out by the company. The user base for the same will grow ten times in the next few years with this unique profit sharing model between the company and the customer. A staggering 20% of Line’s overall business revenue in the year 2013 came from stickers and the company is looking at increasing its footprint and revenues globally with these two unique measures.