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Cute overload: Line messaging app hits 300 million users

Known for its cartoonish emoticons, Japan's Line is aiming for half a billion users in 2014.

Line claims $10 million in monthly character sales. Line

Inexplicably, the world craves more kawaii cute characters.

The dizzying ascent of Japanese messaging app Line has marked another milestone, notching 300 million registered users worldwide, executives told a press conference in Tokyo.

The app, which is drenched in horrifyingly cute cartoon critters, passed 200 million users back in July. It has doubled its number of users since late April, just seven months.

With increasingly global appeal, Line is competing against messaging services WhatsApp, which hit 350 million active monthly users last month, and China-based Tencent's WeChat, which claims nearly 300 million users.

"We're aiming for 500 million users in 2014," Line CEO Akira Morikawa was quoted as saying by CNET Japan. (See photos of the press event here.)

The company, a subsidiary of South Korea's Naver, claims 7.2 billion daily messages, and over 50 million users in Japan, where it began in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster as cell phone networks were disrupted.

The Line app offers free communication, as well as games and various tools, and a plethora of ultra-cute animal and human cartoon characters, or stickers, that are like enhanced emoticons.

Aside from free original Line characters, users can pay about $2 for the privilege of using licensed characters such as Hello Kitty. Line has reported sales of $10 million per month from stickers.