SEOUL, July 28 (Yonhap) -- LINE messenger, provided by South Korea's top portal operator NHN Corp., is expected to reach another milestone of 300 million download hits worldwide by the end of this year in a sign of its global expansion, industry sources said Sunday.
The free mobile messenger application broke the 200-million download mark worldwide last Tuesday, only four months after the service drew 150 million global users in April and seven months after attracting 100 million in January this year, according to NHN.
Given the pace of growth, analysts expect that it won't take long before LINE sets another milestone of 300 million users very soon, possibly by the end of 2014.
The instant messaging application allows users not only to chat with friends on their smartphones, but also send each other images, video and audio messages. LINE doesn't use the user's contact list to randomly or automatically select friends, offering the user better privacy protection.
Since its launch in June 2011, the service has reached 231 countries and is offered in 16 different languages. According to the data by global mobile data monitoring firm Onavo, Japan had the biggest market share of 44 percent with 45 million users, far beating those of similar social network services such as Facebook at 15 percent and What's App at 6 percent.
LINE's market share in China reached 4 percent, eclipsing the 1 percent of Facebook in Asia's biggest economy, the data showed.
In India, it logged 5 million downloads in three weeks into the initial launch, with the figure having surpassed the 12 million mark in Spain.
"Reaching the 200 million milestone came largely on the back of rapid growth in the South American markets like Brazil, Mexico and Columbia," a NHN official said.
Its brisk global expansion is also attributable to NHN's efforts to make a messenger that reflects the own culture of each country, analysts said. For instance, the company developed mobile sticker characters wearing appropriate clothes during Ramadan for LINE Indonesia and Malaysia.
Analysts forecast that NHN will likely chalk up revenue of 95 billion won from the LINE business in the second quarter, up 38 percent from three months earlier.