Despite growing pains, Line made more than $1b in revenue last year

By J.T. Quigley for,

Just a week after App Annie named it the world’s top-earning app publisher outside of mobile gaming, the maker of Line announced that it earned US$1.02 billion in total annual revenue in 2015.

It’s the first time that Line Corporation, known for its eponymous messaging app and cute character stickers, broke the billion-dollar mark since it was founded in 2000. The Line app itself didn’t debut until 2011.

Line’s 2015 revenue was up 40 percent from the US$656 million it earned in 2014. Broken down by service type, 41 percent of sales were attributed to “content” (which includes games, Line Play, Line Music, Line Camera, Line TV, and Line Live), 24 percent for “communication” (which includes stickers and Line Call), 30 percent for advertising, and 5 percent for “other services” (which include Line Taxi, Line Pay, and branded goods sales from Line Friends stores).

The above paragraph was updated with more information about which Line offerings fall under each service category at 18:10 JST on Jan 28.

line revenue graph 2015

“In 2015, advertising sales and sales in our other major markets outside of Japan increased significantly, allowing us to achieve balanced overall growth,” said Line CEO Takeshi Idezawa in a statement. “Our efforts to evolve into a platform have progressed particularly well in Taiwan and Thailand, where sales are also significantly increasing.”

Very few new users

In addition to financials, Line also shared its most recent monthly active user (MAU) figure: 215 million as of December 31, 2015. That figure was 181 million a year ago, and 212 million in October.

Despite the huge monetary milestone and a slight uptick in MAUs, Line is struggling to grow outside of its four core markets: Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Indonesia. Those countries account for 144.7 million of the latest MAU figure, or 67.3 percent of total MAUs. It’s proof that the messenger is becoming increasingly balkanized, as those core markets made up 65 percent of total MAUs in Q3. In the first quarter of 2015, that figure was only 60 percent.

line mau graph

“Looking ahead in 2016, we will continue to refine our messaging app as a hub to a broader Line platform and aim to increase the number of countries where we are the market leader,” Idezawa added.