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Line reports sharp spike in first-quarter sales

Kyodo

Line Corp., a privately held smartphone messaging company based in Tokyo, said Thursday that sales climbed 92 percent to ¥5.82 billion in the first quarter.

The earnings were the first to be reported by the wholly owned subsidiary of South Korea’s NHN Corp.

Game applications accounted for half of all sales and emoticon images for 30 percent, Line CEO Akira Morikawa said at a press conference in Tokyo. The images, called “stickers,” are used in Line’s flagship instant messaging app.

Although Japanese make up only 30 percent of Line’s global user base of 150 million, they account for 80 percent of sales.

Regarding the disparity, Morikawa said Line may revise its pricing system to fix prices on a country-by-country basis to encourage non-Japanese to use the paid parts of its apps.

Line is a free chatting and calling service that was launched in Japan two months after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Conventional and wireless telephone lines were overwhelmed in the hours after the disasters.

It has since been localized worldwide and has topped the free app download rankings in 43 countries.

Morikawa said it is possible Line Corp. may launch an initial public share offering in the future, while adding there are no specific plans at present.