At one point in time, Indonesians were the most frequent users of BBM (previously BlackBerry Messenger) in the world:

Source: SimilarWeb 2016

And BBM was the most active social app in the country:

Source: Hootsuit/We are Social 2016

The former is probably still true (we do not see BBM grow in any other country); the latter no longer holds true:

Source: Hootsuit/We are Social 2018

Everyone knows about Whatsapp’s ascent – but did you notice Line, which rose from obscurity in the country two years ago, to grow even bigger than BBM?

Indeed, Line has become one of the most popular messaging applications in the country. Revie Sylviana, Strategic Partnership Director of Line Indonesia, claims that Line already has 90 million users in Indonesia, and 80 percent of them are young people.

LINE was most popular among 16-19 year olds in Indonesia, 2016. Source: Jakpat report

From the perspective of a young Indonesian myself who uses Line, there are many things that make this application so attractive and unique from others (and thus popular), including:

    1. Localisation using stickers. Ask any Line user what makes it fun, engaging, and sticky, and it’s a guarantee that they’ll talk about its stickers. Away from its home market Japan, what Line did well to capture youth in Indonesia is localising its stickers. Line collaborates with many unique creators from Indonesia who produce thousands of stickers every year. Apart from the regular fun stickers, Line also creates stickers of famous artists from various countries that makes it attractive for youngsters to share image emoticons of their idols. Although not all of them are free, there are many LINE users who buy paid stickers, making it a good revenue source.

Localises LINE stickers for Indonesia. Below, special stickers for Ramadhan
  1.  Easy to add Friends. LINE uses telephone number as an Account ID, similar to WhatsApp. What makes Line smarter is that friends can also be added using a User Id– saving the hassle of dealing with and remembering phone numbers when adding them. They also provide Add-Friend via QR Code by directing the user’s mobile camera to the QR Code of the friend they want to add. LINE can also automatically add friends by accessing the contact number on the user’s mobile.
  2. Group Video call. Line provides free voice and video call services between fellow LINE users using only internet data. LINE also updated its features by introducing Group Video Call, allowing up to four people at the same time (something even WhatsApp doesn’t have). This feature is also free of charge and a great way to engage groups of youngsters.
    LINE allows up to four people to group video call
  3. Games. LINE is more than just a messaging application. They have also developed game features that can simulate the feeling of playing games online with fellow users. Let’s Get Rich, Cookie Run, and Rangers are some games that attract LINE users. In April 2018, LINE released Face Play, a feature that allows users to play free games via video calls. With the help of a camera, this game must be played using facial expressions and movements.
  4. News. LINE Today is a feature launched in February 2016. The advantage of this feature is that it provides popular and current news, and is one of the fastest growing services. There is a wide variety of news content including, Entertainment, Sports, Economy, Politics, and Technology. The feature also allows LINE users to engage with comments. This year, LINE has introduced Line Today Buzz and Line Today Movie. Line Today Buzz is a user-generated content section where users can submit their own creative content, in the form of photos and memes. Meanwhile, Line Today Movie displays showtimes for movies currently running or coming soon across the country

With all the exciting features and constant innovation, it’s clear that LINE is branding itself more than just a messaging app and is serious about dominating the mobile messaging sphere in Indonesia. It’ll be interesting to see if they go beyond the young market and woo older consumers too in the near future.

Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at [email protected].