Di­a­logue: Bi­lal Far­rukh

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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.

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