Dialogue: Bilal Farrukh
When was LINE app introduced in Pakistan?
LINE has been providing services to Pakistani users since June 2011. Now LINE is one of the most popular apps as a mobile life platform offering a variety of communication and lifestyle services.
What is the total number of LINE users worldwide?
The repeated success of new features and services has made LINE a hot cultural icon, with 211 million monthly active users in 230 countries as of June 2015. LINE has also held the coveted No. 1 spot in the ‘free apps’ category of app stores in 70 countries.
How is LINE safer as a messaging app than other apps?
With the industry-leading protection system, LINE has been providing the highest protection for user privacy. With strong commitment for user security, LINE continuously advances its security system to stay optimized for changing mobile systems and different user environments. Letter Sealing and True Delete are the latest additions to LINE’s array of numerous security features and programs. Hidden Chat not only encrypts but allows users to send self deleting messages with timer. Data encryption and Passcode Lock. These are a few examples of security features that are already offered by LINE. In simple words, communication on LINE is more secure than any other social platform.
What is the difference between LINE and LINE Lite?
LINE Lite aims to maximize user experience whilst reducing dependence on infrastructure to use it. Though keeping the key features of LINE, LINE Lite is beneficial for consumers who have less preference or needs for various functions. The central tenet to LINE Lite is the size of the app which is less than 1 MB. This makes LINE Lite 20 times faster to install than the standard LINE app (23 MB). This trimming will definitely be a boon for users who are still using 2G technology and reduce any entry level barriers. However, LINE Lite has all the core features such as stickers and multiple language function. Users can use pre-existing LINE ID for LINE Lite.
Do you think LINE will take over Whatsapp and other messaging apps in Pakistan?
We don’t see other messaging apps as competitors because LINE is a life platform, not just a messaging application. With games, tools, social connectivity and entertainment apps complementing LINE Messenger itself, the LINE family has grown into a multi-faceted platform that allows users to create, share and connect with one another across any platform.
Even from the messenger perspective, LINE is already ahead of others by providing HD video and audio calling. With over 20,000 fun stickers and counting featuring characters for every occasion with distinctive personalities that allow users to express themselves graphically while chatting. LINE Games that enhance interaction with friends and foster friendly competition – there are currently more than 44 games that have achieved over 546 million downloads worldwide. Some LINE games have only been released in certain countries only.
Please tell us about some unique features of LINE application.
LINE comes with a bundle of features making talking to your friends an absolute delight. With free messaging, crystal clear voice and video calls, a whole bunch of LINE stickers of original characters make conversations more fun and engrossing. Hidden chat is really secure and private with ability to create self deleting messages after friends have read it. You can also give your friends quick updates about your day through Timeline and each group chat has its own timeline which makes the group chats less intrusive. It’s really great for people who want to share their pictures and videos with a certain group only. There are also family apps such as LINE Game, aillis (formerly LINE camera), B612 and LINE Launcher. Lots of brand official accounts give LINE users a variety of things to enjoy. Those help our users to go beyond chat and use the app for endless entertainment. You can get the latest videos from Coke Studio or chat with Mehwish Hayat. The best of the lot is LINE tools that packs incredible day-to-day essentials for our users.
Whatsapp in Urdu has been introduced in Pakistan, do you think LINE should also come up with a similar Urdu feature for Pakistani users?
Localization is one of our key strategies to bring localized experiences for users, which includes signing on local celebrities, partnering with local businesses and localizing the service only after it achieves some degree of recognition in the region. We have launched several Urdu stickers on LINE giving a very localized sticker chat experience with local chat lingo, including the latest one for Eid-ul-Adha featuring a bakra, chicken and kasai. We plan to continue with this strategy, so we expect to have an Urdu feature in future.
As one of our local activities in Pakistan, LINE brought the experience of watching cricket matches held in Australia and New Zealand via its new LINECAST feature to local users in Feb 2015. The show included participation of popular celebrities like Ali Azmat, Mathira, Noori, LAAL band, Shiraz Uppal and the renowned TV show host Waqar Zaka who joined live from Australia.
We will continue to introduce more local features/activities moving forward in order to meet our users’ needs in Pakistan.
Do you think that the launch of 3G and 4G services in Pakistan can play a major role in significantly increasing the number of LINE users?
Since LINE is a mobile life platform, we are sure that the launch of new telecom- munication services helps LINE to engage with more users in Pakistan. However, we keep providing better user experiences in any environment including network. That’s the reason we developed LINE Lite. Thanks to its small size and low data consumption, users with 2G devices can be more connected with their friends and family.
What are the new features that LINE plans to launch for Pakistani users?
We will continue to provide more diverse and entertaining features for local users.
Who are the brand ambassadors of LINE app in Pakistan?
LINE being a social media platform, tries to keep connecting with key celebrities, art- ists and opinion-makers in Pakistan. In that aspect, LINE has collaborated with some popular celebrities like Mehwish Hayat and Hamza Ali Abbasi, who were both seen in our latest TVCs and other communication. They also maintain their own OAs to keep close contact and communication with their fans and followers on LINE. Other artistes who have been active on LINE and are promoting it are Faisal Qureshi and Waqar Zaka.
How do you differentiate LINE with other messaging apps?
LINE is focusing on providing more value to its users rather than how to compete in the market. As a new gateway for the ultimate mobile experience, LINE offers not only basic services of free messages, voice calls and group chats, but also value added elements such as LINE’s original stickers, Official Account (OA) and family apps.
‘We will continue to provide more diverse and entertaining features for local users.’ - Bilal Farrukh, Country Lead, LINE Pakistan, talks to Slogan.