Line seeks to dominate all apps, not just messaging
Pamela Clark-Dickson, Principal Analyst, Consumer Services
Today at MWC 2015 Jeanie Han, CEO of Line Euro-Americas, announced that the mobile messaging, content, and commerce app-provider wants to be the only mobile app that consumers will ever need. Acknowledging that this is a bold mission statement, Han said that the company believes it has created a new way for mobile users to communicate by placing messaging at the center of a suite of content, services, and tools targeting consumers and enterprise customers.
So far Line’s strategy seems to be working. The company has 181 million monthly active users in 230 countries; between them they send and receive 13 billion messages daily, including 1.8 billion stickers. Stickers are an extremely successful business for Line, noted Han, who said that the company offers 40,000 sets of stickers and 6,000 emojis. In fact, between 15% and 20% of Line messages are conversations transmitted entirely in stickers and emojis. In addition, Line Creators’ Market, the user-generated sticker publishing platform that the company launched in April 2014, had generated $30 million in sales by November, with 1.4 billion stickers purchased.
However, Line wants to be about much more than messaging and stickers: it wants to parlay the kind of user engagement that these services are experiencing into other monetizable services, targeting merchants and brands. The company initially launched official accounts, which allow celebrities and brands to engage with their fans and customers. Han said that Line’s research has found that these accounts typically generate 10 times the amount of engagement experienced by other social media sites: 55.8% of the followers of such accounts open and read the messages, and 31.6% redeem coupons (when offered).
More recently Line has partnered with Salesforce to deliver Business Connect, an API that enables enterprises to interact with their customers in a more targeted way. The typical use cases for this service include package redeliveries, appointment management, balance checking, flight bookings, and content provision.
The smart home is another area of focus for Line, which has partnered with consumer electronics brand LG to integrate its service with smart appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines. The company has also rolled out the Line Pay mobile payments service, a taxi-booking service, and an indoor-mapping service, although the latter two services are currently available only in Japan.
Visa and Accenture prepare to drive m-commerce in connected cars
Eden Zoller, Principal Analyst, Consumer Services and Payments
Visa and Accenture used MWC 2015 to showcase a location-based m-commerce application for connected cars that will be tested with Pizza Hut at selected locations in the US later this year. Although still very much a concept service, this initiative is in line with the migration of location-based services from smartphones to a wider range of devices, screens, and embedded touch points. Vehicles with inbuilt connectivity will present a significant opportunity for location-based commerce, albeit one that will take time to build.
The service is based on Accenture’s Connected Vehicle Business Service platform and Visa Checkout. An interactive voice feature allows users to place their Pizza Hut order hands-free; the payment is processed via Visa Checkout through the vehicle’s connected dashboard, and Visa will use tokenization to authenticate transactions. When the car enters a designated Pizza Hut location, Bluetooth low energy beacon sensors will alert restaurant staff of the customer’s arrival. The car manufacturers that will be involved in the trial are yet to be announced.
Although the focus of the Pizza Hut trial is fast food, the principles could be applied to other location-based m-commerce scenarios and applications. For example, personalized marketing offers could be sent during a lunchtime drive, flagging restaurants and grocery stores that match a consumer’s eating preferences – provided, of course, that the user has opted-in to receive such services and their data privacy is protected.
A growing number of vehicle manufacturers are supporting connected in-car entertainment services, but developments in m-commerce are still at an early stage. Ford is one of the early movers on this front, having looked at ways to promote in-car commerce with its AppLink platform. This links to Ford’s Sync in-car command system, which enables drivers to sync with selected mobile applications that can be controlled via in-vehicle voice commands.