[EDIT: A previous version of this article stated that Line “expects” a billion users by 2015, Line has contacted me to inform me that the CEO’s comments were more of a goal than an expectation. They also pointed out that they have denied the IPO rumors and continue to do so]
When Mark Zuckerberg was talking about the Oculus deal, he often compared it to Facebook’s much larger acquisition of Whatsapp. Tucked (perhaps “Zucked?”) into those explanations was a look at what Zuckerberg’s strategy is when it comes to acquisitions. He said (and I am paraphrasing here) that being able to (or having the potential to) reach one billion people is an extremely valuable asset for a company. He believes that Whatsapp will hit that number. Now Line, Whatsapp’s Japanese based competition, thinks it will approach that number sometime in 2015.
The estimate came during a conference call with investors and Line’s CEO. Line hopes to have between 500 million and 600 million registered users before the end of this year, and then hit the magic 1 billion number sometime during 2015.
It is important to note that Line’s numbers aren’t based on active users, but registered users. Line doesn’t give out its active user numbers, so it isn’t clear exactly how many of those users are actively using the app, how many downloaded it on a whim then never used it and how many of them tried it and then moved onto other messaging apps.
Still, regardless of how many of the users are active, the numbers remain impressive.
Line gained its first burst of popularity after the tragic 2011 earthquake and tsunami temporarily took out the communication infrastructure of the country.
Line is also rumored to be considering its first IPO later this year, a rumor they have vehemently denied. Still, if they do go public, they do have a vested interest in making its numbers seem as favorable as possible. Bloomberg says that Line could be valued at up to $14.9 billion.
The messaging app market is clearly growing and still has some space to grow even further. Which makes everything seem hunky dory for the apps that have carved out an audience. It will be interesting to see how many full featured apps the market can support in the coming years.