When Line Corp. resurrected a popular 2002 Indonesian teen movie and filmed an online version portraying the same cast and characters, a decade older and using its Line Alumni app, the company quickly found it had a hit on its hands.
Line released its new, 10-minute version of “Ada Apa Dengan Cinta?” (“What’s Up With Love?”) on YouTube, and fans of the original proved to be eager to revisit the story.
“The film was a huge hit in Indonesia. People who saw it 12 years ago are now in their 30s, meaning they are highly literate with smartphones and the Internet,” CEO Takeshi Idezawa told reporters at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on Wednesday in Tokyo.
The new movie was a soaring success, garnering 6 million views and helping, along with the alumni-finding app, to boost Line’s user base in Indonesia, said Idezawa. He said the successful marketing strategy was “very Line-like.”
“In our global expansion, our approach is to seek localization in all aspects, including localization of functions and how promotion takes place,” he added.
In March, Idezawa took over as CEO of the operator of the namesake smartphone messaging application, which is now attracting intense attention from investors amid expectations it will go public as early as this summer.
The rapidly growing company, a 100 percent subsidiary of South Korea’s Naver Corp., now operates in 230 nations. It has top market share in Japan, Thailand and Taiwan, and its presence in Indonesia is growing.
A Line initial public offering could be one of the biggest this year, at a time when investors have plowed into the Tokyo stock market and the Nikkei 225 average has risen above the 20,000 mark. Some analysts predict the IPO would value the company at up to ¥1 trillion.
Line’s Indonesian film represents what Idezawa called “localization on a functional, deep level.” A more superficial approach, but nonetheless effective, includes tailoring its popular online “stickers” to local tastes and using local celebrities as well as globally known figures, he said.
Meanwhile, Idezawa said smartphone apps are growing into a key platform from which users access the Internet. This represents a shift from the use of personal computers, with Web browsers and even email client apps taking a hit.
“That’s why platform development is very important for us,” he said.
Idezawa thinks Line has already established its value through its flagship messaging app and its ability to aid communication between people who know each other in the real world rather than online-only contacts. He said he now wants to expand Line into becoming what the company terms a “life” platform.
“This is a departure from our past focus on online content such as games. It’s an area where we’ll aggressively try to connect Line users to offline services,” Idezawa said.
Line Pay, a mobile payment and fund transfer service, Line Taxi, which helps call a ride, Line Part Time Job providing employment information, and food delivery service Line Wow are some of the offerings in that direction, he said.
For the period from January to March, Line boosted its revenue 70 percent from the same quarter a year ago to ¥28.1 billion. Much of this was generated by its namesake messaging app, contributing ¥25.4 billion, up 76 percent year on year.
In March, Line’s active users totaled 205 million, including 123 million in its key markets of Japan, Thailand, Taiwan and Indonesia.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.