A niche analysis of three interpersonal media: examining the competition among Facebook, Line, and e-mail

Shu-Chu Li*, Lin Lin Ku, Yen Shen Sam Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Dimmick’s niche theory was applied to examine the gratifications obtained from the use of Facebook, Line, and e-mail to understand the competitive relationships among them in Taiwan. Two methods were adopted, the first of which was to conduct 20 intensive interviews. The second method was a telephone survey that consisted of 1,042 valid calls. The results of the data analysis showed that among the three media, Line had the widest niche breadth and the highest scores for competitive superiority, and it competed strongly with Facebook. However, the overall findings actually indicate that the strengths of Facebook and Line were more complementary than competitive. Therefore, based on these results, it is predicted that Facebook and Line are able to coexist. Furthermore, based on the results, it is predicted that Line is unable to replace e-mail in safe and formal communication because it is effective in task coordination whereas the strength of e-mail is in documentation. The results also showed that Facebook and Line had wide niche breadths, indicating that they are “generalists” in terms of communication. In contrast, e-mail had a narrow niche breadth, indicating that it is a “specialist” focusing on safe and formal communication. The results also showed that the competitive superiority scores of a medium were a powerful predictor of the use history of that medium only when individuals perceived that two media were similar.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)419-436
Number of pages18
JournalChinese Journal of Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2 Oct 2018


  • e-mail
  • Facebook
  • gratifications obtained
  • line
  • niche theory


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