From tsunami lifeline to listing, Line sends message to chat rivals

A man uses a smartphone-based social networking service (SNS) "LINE" in Tokyo on August 3, 2014 A messaging app launched in the aftermath of Japan’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Line is moving towards a possible dual listing in Tokyo and New York as it jostles for space in an increasingly crowded and imaginative market. Combining instant messaging with shopping, gaming and other features such as letting users send each other cute cartoon “stickers”, Line is hugely popular in Japan, particularly among teenagers. Its plans for a reported $9.8 billion Tokyo listing would help on that front — coming after February’s rush of deal making, including Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp for as much as $19 billion and Japanese online retailer Rakuten’s $900 million spend on Viber. “Competition among messaging applications is heating up worldwide,” said Hitoshi Sato, senior analyst at InfoCom Research, Japanese telecom giant NTT group’s research arm.

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