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Author Topic: LINE - the txt chat/audiocall/videocall friend contacts VoIP you always needed?  (Read 4849 times)


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I must have been asleep, or something.
If you haven't heard of or are not already using LINE, then you might be very interested in this.
I hadn't been able to find it discussed in the DC forum, but I apologise in advance for any duplication.
(Skip to the details in the bulleted items in the list below.)

LINE logo VoIP.pngLINE - the txt chat/audiocall/videocall friend contacts VoIP you always needed? - Over 400 million users in 2015 so far, and estimates are it will reach 700 million by year end.

A couple of weeks ago, I was given a Nokia "Lumia" 830 smartphone to try out. I was delighted at the opportunity, as it has the Windows OS, and I was primarily interested as I wanted to test out the MS Office apps  - especially for OneNote and the Office Lens app (those apps all, by the way, work very nicely indeed - I highly recommend them, and the $FREE Office Lens app is superb).

My 14 y/o daughter had been hinting for some time that she wanted a phone, so I gave the phone to her to use, but without a SIM, as I did not want to get her conditioned to the idea that she needed to or could freely run up a phone bill.
She took it to school and connected it to the WiFi there, making a connection to a shared OneNote Notebook - a working concept/tool that I had been teaching her to use, with Excel, for a data-rich science project she was conducting at school. She already uses MS Office (Word and Publisher) and I have introduced her to Excel (which has blown her away, as it makes such light work of the data analysis on her science project).
I downloaded several $FREE games apps to the phone, and she found and downloaded some more. As I had not linked any payment devices/sources to the phone, she could not inadvertently purchase anything - I learned from my mistake with the Kindle in that regard, and even my 3½ y/o son had made a book purchase at one point (he's 5 y/o now).
The games seemed to be the main objective from that point on, as both my daughter and son started to play endless games on the phone, trying to beat each others' latest high score in a desperate, spiralling contest of egos.
Needless to say, I found this focus on games/entertainment somewhat disappointing, but not unexpected. Kids are kids, after all.

Then my daughter mentioned that a Thai school friend of hers used an HTC phone with a $FREE text chat client app called "Line", and kept in touch with her family back in Thailand using that.
Hearing that, my Thai wife reminded me that she had already told me that, from her phone conversations to Thailand family/friends some time ago, they had referred to something called "Line", and that I had drawn a blank at the time and thought it was just a proprietary Thai Telecom thing.

So I did a duckgo search, and came up with loads of references to LINE. I was amazed. Started in 2011 (see Wikipedia notes below), users currently number over 400 million and counting, projected to pass 700 million by the end of the year. What was this thing?

So I downloaded the free app. When it installed, it didn't necessitate any attached ID, but said it had to set up a Line Account and asked for an email address or a phone number for security (even though there was no SIMM in the phone), so I gave it my personal mobile number to see what it would do. It texted a 4-digit code (with a 30-minute life) to my personal mobile, to feed into the LINE app. When I typed it in, that confirmed a link between my LINE Account ID and the phone number. The system then conformed that my LINE account was thus set up and operational. Within seconds, the LINE contacts list started to be populated with LINE contacts who had my phone number in their contacts list. These contacts were in "groups" and my account was then being automatically linked to associative groups. My account was also being forwarded by these people to others. Each contact was alerted that my ID (with that phone number) had come online as a LINE account ID.
A few minutes later, my wife and daughter were on the phone using txt messaging, voice calling, and video calling to family and friends (in Thai and English) - people whom we had not spoken to in ages. and whom we thought we had lost contact with. (During this period, my daughter downloaded a $FREE Thai keyboard app so as we could type in that language also.)
It brought tears to my eyes to see my wife crying with happiness at this communication with much-missed family and friends, and her joining in the group discussion that was going on at the same time. She walked some of her video callers around our apartment, to show them what it was like, so I had this new experience of being "visited" by one of her younger sisters as I sat on the bed with my laptop on my knees. I waved at my visitor and greeted her in Thai and she waved cheerily back, apparently accustomed to such such virtual "visits".

They spent hours on the phone, calling friends and family in places including Thailand, South Africa, Europe, and I don't know where else. I discovered I have a contact in South Korea too.

Links: Below are some information links. The most up-to-date is the Wikipedia one, and of course you could go to the website to get started.

(Copied below sans embedded hyperlinks/images.)
  • Line (application) - Wikipeda
    Line (styled "LINE") is a proprietary application for instant communications on electronic devices such as smartphones, tablet computers and personal computers. Line users exchange texts, images, video and audio, and conduct free VoIP conversations and video conferences. Line was designed by 15 members of New Human Network (NHN) Japan's development team, composed of Korean, Japanese, Chinese and American engineers. The idea of Line communication system was proposed to NHN Japan by Lee Hae Jin, the Chief Strategy Officer of NHN. It first launched in Japan in 2011, reaching 100 million users within eighteen months and 200 million users only six months later.[1] Line became Japan's largest social network in 2013. In October 2014 Line announced that it had attracted 560 million users worldwide with 170 million active user accounts.[2][3] In February 2015, it announced the 600 million mark had been passed and 700 million were expected by the end of the year.[4]

  • From Japan, The Biggest Social Network You Never Heard Of
    'Line' Has Gone Viral With Consumers, Fueled by Ads and Stiff Fees for Business
    By John Stampfel. Published on June 14, 2013.

    The Japanese spend a lot of time commuting, and mobile devices are an essential part of the journey. Commuting accounts for 28 percent of mobile-device usage time in Japan, with social-media consuming a hefty chunk of it.

    Nine months ago, nearly everyone on my daily commuter train was using Twitter, which now has 20 million users in Japan. But most of have since switched to the homegrown platform, Line, which was launched in 2011 by NHN Japan after the Tohoku earthquake. The name refers to the lines that formed outside of public phones after the disaster.

    Driven by strong advertising support and celebrity endorsements, the app, which provides free IM and calling via smartphones, tablets and desktops, is now the world's fastest-growing social network. It recently reached 50 million followers in just 399 days. In January 2013, Line's total number of Japanese followers hit 40 million; and a whopping 60 percent of Japanese women in their 20s and 30s, Line's research shows, use the platform every day.

    Line and its parent NHN (which also owns Naver, Korea's largest search portal) have monetized the network by motivating users not only to follow brands but to take action, which has made Line incredibly attractive to marketers in retail. According to research commissioned by Line, more than half of female users follow official brands. In addition, 63 percent of all users read brand messages, 32 percent have used a coupon delivered via Line, and 27 percent have clicked on a link.

    Unlike Facebook, however, advertisers can use the platform only if they pay. There is a fixed-rate card, and the number of messages is strictly controlled. For example, a four-week campaign with five messages will cost 8 million yen ($81,000), while a 12-week campaign offering 15 messages (at a maximum of two per week) will set you back 15 million yen ($151,000).

    Brands can use messages to link to content or offer coupons, presents and prizes. There are additional charges if brands want to create sponsored stamps, a form of emoticons that are hugely popular in Manga-obsessed Japan. These are based on client creative but generated by Line. And marketers have major incentives to remain on Line for the long haul, as a decision to stop paying means a brand's account is deleted and it loses not just followers but the content that was created.

    None of this tight control has put off potential advertisers, which now include Coca-Cola, Lawson convenience stores and the Sukiya fast-food chain. When Matsumoto Kiyoshi, a drug store chain, needed to attract more customers aged 10-20, it offered a 10%-off coupon via Line and, within five days, more than 10,000 people had used one -- half of them in the target group. An additional 300,000 people also started following the brand on Line.

    One of the most remarkable aspects of Line's fast rise and its ad-funded business model is that so many businesses have bought into it so quickly. While consumers are quick to leap onto the next big thing, businesses in Japan are notoriously wary of new platforms. The constant search for first-mover advantage is simply not as ingrained in the marketing psyche as it is in Western countries.

    As Line becomes more global, NHN will get the chance to see whether these characteristics apply outside of Asia. Early results appear promising: Line claims on its English-language website that it is the most downloaded app in more than 40 countries and available in 230 markets. Services such as avatar community Line Play have recently become available in English, and the app itself is available for iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows phones. In February, Line signed a deal with Nokia to make it available on Asha handsets across Asia. Line's status as the biggest social network you've never heard off won't last for long.
    John Stampfel is Head of Emerging Digital at MediaCom Japan.

  • LINE: Free Calls & Messages (Google Play)
    LINE reshapes communication around the globe, bringing you closer to your family, friends, and loved ones—for free. With voice and video calls, messages, and a limitless variety of exciting stickers, you’ll be able to express yourself in ways that you’ve never thought possible. With over 600 million users worldwide, LINE’s constantly expanding platform will continue to provide exciting new experiences and convenience.

    LINE’s New Features
    - Keep Your Things Close with Keep
    Store messages, photos, and videos in Keep and share them easily with friends.

    LINE’s Main Features
    - Free voice and video calls: Use your PC or smartphone to keep in touch with friends and family both at home and abroad, or hold a business meeting on the go!

    Instant messaging anywhere: Conversation is just a tap away. Spice it up with LINE’s exciting collection of stickers or send pictures, videos, and even GPS coordinates to let your friends know what you’re up to.

    A full-featured social networking service: Post your day-to-day activities to your Timeline or comment on your friends’ posts.

    Group chats: Share important information with your co-workers or talk about mutual interests with your closest friends.

    Find new expressions in the Sticker Shop: The world’s largest collection of stickers features famous and unique characters from around the world to let you express yourself just the way you want to.

    Stay informed with LINE official accounts: Connect directly with your favorite celebrities and companies by friending their official accounts.

    Get connected to new apps: LINE provides a gateway to entertainment and lifestyle apps that will...

  • LINE v4.0.0.278 app download from
    Send messages and make free calls from your PC
    Alan Le Bihan    Communication software Internet phone
        LINE 300 Million Users

    LINE is an instant messaging application and VoIP platform that lets you send messages and make free voice and video calls, and it has a Windows client so that you can do all it all from your PC.

    Free calling and messaging
    LINE’s main purpose is to help you communicate with your friends for free. Just like Skype, Facebook Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger and many others, LINE lets you send free text messages and chat with friends who are also using this app; you can even start group chats. LINE also includes VoIP features so that you can also make voice and video calls.

    LINE aims to differentiate itself from the competition by adding features that will appeal to its younger users: in addition to the traditional messages and photo and audio sharing features, LINE includes many stickers which you can add to your conversations for a little fun. These emoticons will brighten the dullest conversations, and there are many more which can be downloaded.

    A simple interface to focus on the essentials
    The PC version of LINE comes with a minimalist interface. Three tabs give you access to your contact list, your current conversations, and lets you add new friends. The client is very easy to use, and to log in to the PC client, all you have to do is scan a QR code with your smartphone.

    LINE for PC is the perfect extension for the mobile version. You can start a conversation on your smartphone and continue later on your computer.

    If you use LINE on your mobile, you’ll like the PC version because you’ll be able to enjoy the same features. It lets you access your LINE contacts and talk with them comfortably when you are home and using your PC.

    To use the PC version of LINE, you must have the LINE app installed on your mobile.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2015, 05:46 PM by IainB »


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Brought i smile to my face to read about you and family connecting to others.  :Thmbsup:


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You may also like to check out Telegram instant messaging app. Its modus operandi is the same, but it also offers an end-to-end encryption option.

However, in the end, the IM app you will use will mostly depend on what the people you know uses. There's no point in switching to "telegram", or "whatsapp", or whatever if your daughter's whole class is on "line".

Nice review btw.


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You may also like to check out Telegram instant messaging app. Its modus operandi is the same, but it also offers an end-to-end encryption option.
However, in the end, the IM app you will use will mostly depend on what the people you know uses. There's no point in switching to "telegram", or "whatsapp", or whatever if your daughter's whole class is on "line".
Nice review btw.

Thanks, I hadn't come across Telegram before. Interesting, but isn't it JASNT (Just Another Social Networking Tool), but with encryption built-in? (If allowed in the user country.)
The thing about LINE would seem to be the major differentiators inherent in it's origins, as I posted elsewhere:
...would seem to be based on what is arguably a not unreasonable assumption that the existing de facto business models used by ISPs and advertisers will likely continue and/or be reinforced by anticipated potential changes in a pricing regime, and that the ISPs would intend to plan for that because it will be easy "money for nothing" (i.e., they will not have not added any value/service).
However, the art of the possible might have already thwarted such likely plans, by demonstrating that there are alternative business models and pricing regimes that could/have come into play. This point struck home to me when I posted the comment LINE - the txt chat/audiocall/videocall friend contacts VoIP you always needed?

If you read the Wikipedia info - Line (application) - Wikipeda - you will see that LINE was created as an emergency response to replace a crippled telecommunications infrastructure after the Japanese earthquakes and tsunami in 2011. As such, there would have been little or no thought given to making revenue from it at the time. However, by offering it as a free service to the public, and then getting it subsidised by advertising revenue and with an emphasis on the needs of the user as a user, it has a business model that would seem to be quite different to the de facto business model of other "social networks" where the user is a tool whose demographic data is intentionally collected, copyrighted and then sold as such (monetised).
LINE would seem to be a disruptive technology and a potential existential threat to the business models of the market status quo.

I know that users can behave like flocks of sheep, but getting to over 400 million users in 2015, from zero in 2011, with projections at 700 million by 2015 year end would seem to be an as yet unprecedented rate of growth for JASNT, which might rather indicate that maybe it isn't JASNT - or at least, is not perceived as such by users, millions of whom have apparently dumped Twitter and other JASNTs in favour of LINE.

That's why I entitled the OP as LINE - the txt chat/audiocall/videocall friend contacts VoIP you always needed?
Users characteristically have a great deal of difficulty in articulating their requirements, mainly because they don't know what their requirements actually are. They will typically "discover" their requirements by using something, for example (say) such as Twitter, and say, "Hey, that could be really useful to me!", so they want Twitter and the functionality of Twitter that they perceive to be "cool"/useful. Now that - "to be like Twitter" - becomes a de facto user requirement for those users.

History shows similar disruptions of the technological status quo. For example, if you cast back to the TxtIM (TextInternetMessenger) wars, where you had "chat" services including ICQ, AIM, msn, Yahoo. In order to use them, one had to sign in to a discrete user interface for each of these proprietary IM services. The problem was that, if you had friends who used different IM services, then it was tedious as all heck.

Addressing that exact problem, Trillian burst onto the scene, and embraced the protocols of all of them, so you only needed to use the Trillian common interface to chat with all of your friends - a breath of fresh air for the users.
However, there then commenced a moronic tribal dance by the IM service providers (Microsoft arguably being the worst) who started to rapidly dynamically change their protocols so as to frustrate Trillian. They didn't frustrate Trillian for very long though, as the Trillian developers adroitly adapted to each changed protocol with a new Trillian update that adjusted to the new/modified protocol.

This went on for many months, with Trillian winning at every stage, and the service suppliers succeeding only in pissing off and alienating their users to a very great extent, because it showed that the service suppliers wanted nothing more than to maintain a monopolistic and proprietary stranglehold on their users, come what may, and to hell with whatever the users wanted.

As you (@eleman) say:
...However, in the end, the IM app you will use will mostly depend on what the people you know uses. There's no point in switching to "telegram", or "whatsapp", or whatever if your daughter's whole class is on "line".

History repeats. What users probably need now is a "Trillian-like" common interface to communicate with all of their friends on the JASNTs.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2015, 12:46 AM by IainB »