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Instant messaging is a type of online chat which offers real-time text transmission via internet. Since the appearance of smartphone and the subsequent explosion of mobile apps, low-cost or free chat and social messaging apps have proven themselves as a cheap alternative to operator-based text messaging via SMS. Many messenger apps offer features such as group chats, the exchange of graphics, video and even audio messages as well as stickers or emoticons.
LINE, originally built in response to the damaged telecommunications infrastructure in Japan after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, is a financially successful mobile instant messenger that has evolved into a social platform if its own. LINE also features a gaming platform and is one of the leading mobile gaming app publishers on the Google Play Store worldwide. In February 2017, LINE's mobile app publisher revenues amounted to $26.79 million.
Another prominent mobile messenger is WhatsApp with currently more than 1.2 billion monthly active users. The app’s reach is particularly strong in markets outside of the United States and it is one of the most popular mobile social apps worldwide. In February 2014, social network Facebook acquired the mobile app for $19 billion.