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Startup Report

Line, Japan's Take On WhatsApp, Is Creating A Digital Butler Service

The messaging app seeks to stimulate revenue growth, with a focus on amassing users in Asia rather than Europe or the U.S.

Line, Japan's Take On WhatsApp, Is Creating A Digital Butler Service

[Screenshot: via Line]

The Line messaging app, a Japanese rival to WhatsApp and WeChat, is working on a digital butler service in its quest to better monetize and compete with its peers, TechCrunch reports. The product will be unveiled in Thailand later this month, and will make its way to other markets shortly after if successful.

The butler service calls to mind companies like Alfred and Magic, which supposedly handle any and all requests, from errands to food delivery and flight bookings. TechCrunch notes that Line is already in talks with potential partners with for the new app.

Line, one of Fast Company's most innovative companies in 2015, has shifted its focus from the U.S. and Europe to Asia, where the company thinks it can pick up new users more easily. Launching the new butler service in Thailand is a savvy move, since the majority of Line's user base is located there or in Japan or Taiwan; Line has previously turned to its Thai users to test apps like a music-streaming service and a YouTube knockoff. The butler product will be the first app release from Line's Bangkok-based R&D center—its first location outside of Japan.

The new service, according to TechCrunch, is Line's attempt to increase revenue and boost user growth—a necessary push if the app hopes to crack a market dominated by some of its formidable competitors. Facebook-owned WhatsApp, the messaging app to beat, has more than 900 million monthly users, while Facebook's Messenger app recently crossed 800 million. Line, on the other hand, currently has 212 million users—not a huge increase from 181 million, the number Line reported about a year ago.

[via TechCrunch]

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