The smash-hit messaging app Line – which is especially huge in Asia – has just made a move into the biggest country in the region: China. Now sporting the name ‘Lianwo‘ in Chinese (which is a play on “line me” or “link me”), the app’s makers, NHN Japan, have also set up a local homepage for the app at lianwo8.com.
This new Chinese version of Line is touting its iPhone, Android, and Windows apps, ignoring its other versions for WP, BlackBerry, and Mac. It comes with most of the features that are familiar to its over 70 million users – but not the social gaming support.
Line, in its guise as Lianwo, is going head to head with WeChat – “Weixin” in Chinese – which is made by local web giant Tencent (HKG:0700) and already has over 200 million users. Line certainly does look cute – and its large, animated emoticons will play well in China – but it might have arrived about a year too late to make a big impact on WeChat among Chinese social media lovers. Line launched in the summer of 2011.
Back in July of this year, we wrote about how NHN Japan (KRX:035420) was looking at China for expansion, so this seems to be the result of that development. Prior to this move, Line has been targeting smartphone users in Thailand and Indonesia with things like special stickers and local tie-ups for social marketing.
[Hat-tip to Leiphone (article in Chinese) for spotting this]