MWC 2017: Line Introduces Conversational AI Assistant Clova

What Happened
Line, Japan’s leading messaging app with over 217 million users, is working with Naver, South Korea’s biggest internet portal, to launch an intelligent voice assistant service named Clova to serve the East Asian markets.

Line’s CEO Takeshi Idezawa took the stage at a press event at the Mobile World Congress today to announce its plan to launch Clova, which will be accessible via a mobile app, a smart speaker WAVE, and a smart display device FACE. The Clova app is set to launch in Japan and South Korea this spring, with WAVE coming out in early summer and WAVE launching later this year. The company plans to roll out Clova products in other core markets such as Thailand and Indonesia later this year as well.

Leveraging Naver’s search technology and data and combining it with Line’s own user data and communication technology, Clova will able to offer precise, personalized answers to user’s voice commands, adopting local languages, content, and services to better serve its users.

In addition, Line is also in talks with the several companies including Sony and LG to integrate Clova into more consumer gadgets and connected devices, such as a Sony connected headphone, LG connected home appliances, connected toys from Takara Tomy, and even a holographic home robot called Winkle Gatebox that will serve an anthropomorphic visual component for Clova.

What Brands Need To Do
During the keynote presentation, Idezawa acknowledged that the goal behind launching Clova is to bring artificial intelligence technology to consumer gadgets and smart home devices so as to establish Clova as a local competitor to Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant in the Asian markets. This major launch also marks another major tech player entering the battleground for consumer attention with a voice assistant service as non-mobile-centric digital interactions start to emerge and pull the focus off smartphones.

As this trend continues to develop, voice-based conversational services stand to quickly gain more ground in the next few years. Therefore, It is up to brands to start working with developers to figure out their brand voice and incorporate conversational tools into their marketing efforts. Even brands that won’t embed voice into their own product experiences should still look to capitalize on the opportunity by offering complementary services to add value.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland ([email protected]) to schedule a visit to the Lab.


LINE Launches Emoji Keyboard App To Lure New Users

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Earlier today, Japanese messaging app LINE introduced Emoji Keyboard, an iOS app that provides over 3,000 stickers and emoji for users to use in any app of their choice. Emoji and stickers have been generating great revenue for LINE, and it loves to remind users of them with auto-suggestions. To learn more about sticker usage and brand opportunities, check out our POV here.

Interestingly, the app is available worldwide with the exception of its three major markets: Japan, Taiwan and Thailand, which take up over half of its 205 million monthly active users. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that LINE is trying to lure new users into its app ecosystem, independent of its chat service, as it looks to grow its presence in the U.S. and other global markets outside of Asia.

LINE Tests Messaging Apps’ True Potential With Music Streaming Service

Read original story on: TechCrunch

LINE, the Japanese messaging app with 205 million active users, is continuing its platform expansion by launching its own in-app music streaming service. First tested in Thailand two months ago, the paid service is now officially rolling out in Japan, LINE’s main market.

According to the source, however, due to the stronghold of conservative record labels, Japan remains a rare instance in the global markets where music streaming has yet taken hold and sales of physical copies still dominates—even Spotify doesn’t have much presence in the country. Therefore, LINE will have to find a way to leverage its huge user base to jump-start the music streaming market.

This new service came as a natural step in LINE’s vigorous platform expansion. Within the past year alone, the popular messaging app has introduced its own mobile payment component, dipped into in-app ecommerce in Taiwan and SE Asian markets, launched LINE Taxi to compete with Uber in Japan, and even pilot-tested LINE TV, a YouTube-like video service in Thailand. This new branch-out into music stream will continue to diversify its services and revenues, showcasing the vast potential that messaging apps hold as full-fledged media platforms.


Another Messaging App Ventures Into Video Content

Read original story on: TechCrunch

LINE, Japan’s most popular messaging app, continues to expand its core business as it starts testing LINE TV, a YouTube-like video service in Thailand. Available via Android and iOS apps as well as on the web, the platform features a wide range of TV shows and music videos from local Asian markets.

More importantly, LINE TV is deeply integrated with LINE’s messaging app so that users can easily share content with friends. Some videos even contain quick links to follow the official accounts of featured actors within the messaging app. By trying to take control of both the media channel and content, LINE is ambitiously building its business towards a multi-faceted media channel, not unlike what Snapchat is doing.

Why LINE Keeps Reminding Users Of Its Stickers

As covered in our previous white paper on messaging apps, Japan’s messaging app LINE is best known for its vast catalogue of stickers, which are basically advanced emoji with ample branding opportunities. And given that LINE is making roughly $18 million a quarter on selling in-app sticker packs, it makes sense that a new “autocorrect-esque” feature of real-time sticker suggestion has been added in the app’s latest Android update. The feature currently limits its suggestion to the stickers that users already own, but it’s not difficult to imagine LINE using this interface to upsell more stickers in the near future.

Line Offers Free PSY Stickers After Watching New YouTube Single

Korean messaging service Line, which we featured in our Messaging Whitepaper, announced a new partnership with singer PSY to offer free stickers in exchange for viewing his new single on YouTube. It’s a unique marketing strategy to boost YouTube numbers for PSY, whose continued YouTube success is integral to his career in the West. Pushing Line users to the video will certainly do just that, as the messaging service’s massive userbase is enough to push the video towards virality on its own. 

LINE Continues Expansive Growth

International mobile messaging service LINE continues to show impressive growth, so much so that it’s finally begun to outstrip Twitter. Their revenues have increased to over 223% of last year, and 19% over the past three months alone. People compare LINE to Twitter because both companies are centered around direct – or private – messaging, something that Twitter is only now focusing on. DM’s were a more hidden feature of Twitter, while LINE has made them the prominent feature of their app and have succeeded financially as a result. LINE also offers gaming, which represents a large portion of their revenue, and advertising via direct messaging and gaming – as opposed to blasting hashtags out into the feed – has been proven to be more effective. All that is to say: this is further proof that messaging apps, as we’ve mentioned before, are an effective way to get a direct line into customers and users across the globe. 

LINE Introduces Voice Calling

As messaging continues to introduce a myriad of functions, Japan’s LINE has added a flat-rate voice calling service called LINE Call. LINE already provides calling for free via the messaging app, but the new voice calling service is a move to enlist others who might not be keen on downloading an entire messaging suite to utilize the company’s products. It also puts LINE in direct competition with the likes of Skype and Google for cheap, in-app calling services that use mobile data instead of traditional minutes via regular phone service. It also stacks LINE against Facebook’s WhatsApp, who have made noises about releasing a voice service but who haven’t actually gone about doing it yet. With 340 million users on LINE, the move to offering calling signals that messaging apps are working towards making themselves full service centers of communication. Whether users stick with them through their transformation from simple text messengers to monetized suites, however, remains to be seen. 

LINE’s Creators Market Lets Users Create Stickers For Sale

For messaging apps, stickers have been a boon for a while. Line, one of the more popular Japanese messaging apps, is now letting its users sell their original stickers in Line’s web store. Called the Line Creators Market, the store is free for all users to register to. Creators can sell sets of 40 stickers at ~$1, once the graphics are approved by Line, and will receive half of the proceeds. Not only is the store a play to get at additional, popular in-app revenue streams, it’s also a move to increase user engagement and global expansion – sticker purchases accounted for 20% of the app’s revenue thus far, and sticker creation, which are popular globally, could be a way for Line to push its expansion beyond Japan’s borders.

Messaging App LINE Shows Off Samsung Partnership at MWC 2014

Japanese messaging app LINE continues to show a knack for strategic alliances.  After making a splash at CES with its LG integration allowing you to chat with appliances, the company has an installation at Samsung’s developers pavilion at this year’s Mobile Wold Congress to display special features developed for Samsung mobile phones.

Watch a video of the Galaxy 3 Note demo below where users can split the screen and have LINE on the top half and a browser on the bottom half. You can then drag content from the browser directly into chat messages, or do the same with photos from your gallery.  Although the implementation is quite different, it has some similarity to Kik’s new URL browser, which allows you to find and share content from the mobile web.