Business Spotlight: Line Part 1

Category: Business


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. mainstay / ˈmeɪnˌsteɪ / (n.) – a person or thing that acts as a major source of support

    Tourism is a mainstay of our economy.

  2. fittingly / ˈfɪt ɪŋ li / (adv.) – in a manner that’s right or suitable to a certain situation

    My friend’s dog is all white. Fittingly, he’s named “Snow.”

  3. telecommunications / ˌtɛl ɪ kəˌmyu nɪˈkeɪ ʃənz / (n.) – the technology of sending and receiving information using radio, phone, television, internet, etc.

    Telecommunications have greatly improved over the past 20 years.

  4. early on / ˈɜr li ɒn / (adv.) – during an early stage

    Aimee showed great talent early on as a young theater actress.

  5. endear (someone/something) to (someone/something) / ɛnˈdɪər tu / (phrasal v.) – to cause someone or something to be liked or loved by a person

    Sara’s cheerful personality endeared her to her new coworkers.


Read the text below.

The Line messaging application has been a mainstay during the pandemic. Thousands of businesses, local governments and individuals across Japan use it to keep the public informed. Fittingly, it was developed in response to another national emergency: the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of March 2011.

When telecommunications were disrupted after the earthquake, internet company NHN Japan developed Line as a way for people to communicate, releasing it to the public in June 2011. It gained 50 million users within a year. By comparison, it took Twitter and Facebook over three years to achieve similar numbers.

What made Line so successful was its understanding of the Japanese market. It achieved fame in Japan early on for its stickers, which people used to make their messages stand out. The stickers’ cute and varied character designs endeared the Japanese public to the social network, and by 2013, Line was the country’s most popular messaging app. (Jasmin Hayward)

To be continued…

This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Thousands of businesses, local governments, and individuals across Japan use Line to keep the public informed. What are the pros and cons of using messaging apps like this (ex. faster updates, risk of false news)? Do you get information from any businesses or local governments via messaging app? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Line was released to the public in June 2011 and gained 50 million users within a year, over three times faster than Twitter and Facebook. Why do you think it was such an immediate success? Do you remember when you first heard about or started to use Line? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Line achieved fame in Japan early on for its stickers. Why do you think the stickers are so popular? Do you ever use stickers in your messages? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Similar to stickers, emojis have become popular overseas in recent years, but they’ve been used in Japan for a long time. Why do you think emojis finally became popular overseas? What emojis, if any, do you often use (ex. fire, crying with laughter)? Why? Discuss.