Mumbai: Japan-based LINE Corp plans to make its free call and instant messaging app, LINE, available in Hindi and Tamil and hopes this localisation strategy will help it cross the 20 million users mark by end of calendar 2013.

LINE was launched in the country in July, and the number of users in India has touched “10 million, far exceeding our expectations," Akira Morikawa, chief operating officer LINE Corporation, told reporters in Mumbai on Saturday. Globally, LINE has over 200 million users.

“We haven’t experienced such rapid growth (in India) in any other country to date," he said, adding the company has tied up with Sony India to have LINE pre-installed on the Xperia Z1 and Xperia C smartphones.

The company has also roped in Bollywood actor Katrina Kaif to be their India brand ambassador.

Free calling apps or instant messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, Line, Viber or WeChat have been growing exponentially in India and revenue from SMS has shown a marginal dip for all operators.

Research firm Ovum has forecast that by 2016, telecom operators will have lost $54 billion in text messaging revenue because of the increasing popularity of social messaging services (other than SMS, MMS or email) on smartphones, more than double the $23 billion they are expected to have lost by end 2012.

The volume of mobile messaging apps, or the so-called over-the-top (OTT) messaging traffic, is forecast to be twice that of person to person, or P2P SMS, messaging by the end of 2013, according to a 23 April report by Informa Telecoms and Media.

On 11 July, Mint reported that US-based WhatsApp is the clear market leader with more than 250 million active users, a number it first disclosed to The Wall Street Journal on 20 June.

The figure is higher than what microblogging site Twitter had with a little over 200 million users in December, but lower than that of Microsoft Corp.’s online videoconferencing messenger Skype with around 280 million users in October.

WeChat from China-based Tencent Holdings Ltd isn’t too far behind WhatsApp with 195 million users on 15 May, according to the company’s quarterly results.

Nimbuzz, which was founded in the Netherlands but now claims to be fully developed out of India, has around 150 million users, a company official told Mint.

There are other apps such as KakaoTalk from South Korea, Line from Japan, Taiwan’s Cubie, Zalo from Vietnam and LoveByte from Singapore to name a few of the hundreds of such chat apps that are spawning in the apps world.

In the Google play app store, the top three-four apps are Line, WhatsApp, Facebook and WeChat.

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