Line is finding it difficult to gain traction in the United States. 

After an initial marketing push last year, it has eased off promotional activities and says it is focusing on other markets that need attention more urgently.

''There's very strong competition in America,'' Mr Idezawa said.

Still, Line has been emboldened by dizzying success at home, where it is putting a stamp on  Japanese  online social life.

Since 2011, when Line burst onto the scene in Japan, the app has changed the way people text   -with sticker-only conversations-  and the way they talk:

''I'll  Line  You!''.  Line's main characters   -like Brown the Bear and Cony the Rabbit   -are everywhere, as stuffed toys, books, stationery and animated films.

Line says its users send more than a  billion  stickers a day.

Line's  chief executive,  Akira Morikawa, says he gets stopped on the street by people with suggestions for new stickers;

He recently had lunch with Prime Minister  Shinzo Abe to discuss entrepreneurship.

Line has struck chord in Japan partly because of the country's affection for all things cute, experts say. But there are more factors at play.

The stiff, written form of the Japanese language can be cumbersome to type on smart phones, and stickers make communications easier and faster, and Ryoko Moroishima, who has written- several guides on social media.

Stickers also let Japanese users express direct feelings that can be awkward to convey in the formal language, Ms Morishima said.

Refusing an invitation from a colleague for after work drinks, for example, could cause discomfort in a culture where an outright No is avoided at all costs. But enlist a Bear as a messenger-

 And there is less potential for embarrassment on either side, Ms Morishima said.   
'Line has become part of the communications infrastructure,''  said Kenichi Sugai, a technological analyst at Speeda,  -a financial information platform based in Tokyo:

''Now it's a global race to win over users and convince them this is what messaging should be.''

The task falls to a handful of top designers in Tokyo, led by Naotomo Watanbe, who creates all types of stickers for line users.

American users tend to prefer stickers that leave no space for misinterpretation, according to Mr. Watanabe. So smiles are wide, and stickers are often accompanied by:

Captions like  ''Awesome!''  and  ''Great job!''

By contrast, in Japan, Line offers characters with smiles, half-smiles and barely-there smiles, he said.

''Our American colleagues asked us : What's the point of a half-smile?''  Mr Watanbe said.

''It's difficult to express in words. That's why we use stickers.''

Why, Indeed, indeed.  Mr Watanbe!!

With respectful dedication to this  ''master innovator''  nation, Japan. With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of Japan. 

See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' Speed And Stealth '''

Good night and God bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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