LINE Enters Artificial Intelligence Competition to Dominate Asia
Japanese multimedia application LINE’s recent entry to the artificial intelligence (AI) industry could likely dominate Asia’s virtual assistant market, because of its primary focus and leverage in the region.
As a way to compete with current western-oriented artificial intelligence (AI) devices, such as Apple’s Siri, Google’s Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa, LINE developed its own AI system called Clova in about a year and aimed to bring Asia into the AI era, one country at a time.
Introduced at the Barcelona Mobile World Congress in February 2017, the Clova technology exists in LINE’s new smart home speakers, WAVE and the smaller CHAMP, as the company’s response to the growing technological advancements of the day.
Clova’s response mechanisms are tailored to process language in a more natural way, meaning that its responses are geared toward being more “human.” The importance of its human-likeness factor is stressed in LINE Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Euivin Park’s way of referring to Clova.
“It’s not just machine learning. [Clova] is aimed to be a virtual assistant that is close to our daily lives. Machine learning is just a component of the virtual assistant,” she explained at the recent LINE Developer’s Day summit in Tokyo, as reported by The Jakarta Post.
As of September, the Clova technology is only available in LINE’s WAVE and CHAMP smart speakers, which will go on sale to the general public outside of fall season pre-sales, but only to those in Japan and South Korea.
Park elaborated that LINE had long-term plans to expand the Clova technology and the WAVE and CHAMP speakers to their biggest markets such as Indonesia, Taiwan and Thailand, but the plans would not be realized as yet.
Meanwhile, LINE also plans to integrate Clova into smartphones, as well as in cars, toys, home appliances and retail services.
The emergence of LINE’s Clova technology comes at a time when its Western counterparts at Google and Amazon have begun advancing the development of their own AI platforms in their own smart speakers, Google Home and Amazon Alexa.
Park comments that even though LINE’s entry into the AI market could be seen as relatively late, the company’s advantages lay inside the fact that they were focusing on their immediate markets for the time being. If the company had plans to expand their services, it was likely that these would be implemented within their largest Asian markets first.
“LINE is only five years old, but in that time we have grown rapidly. You can’t really fully compare us with [Google or Amazon], because they [...] have decades of experience," said Park, as quoted by The Jakarta Post.
He added, "We only started this Clova project last year, but we have achieved the [initial] goal in that time. I don’t think there is any other company that can match us in that speed."
According to Fortune, Last year, Line soared as much as 36% in their U.S. market debut, valuing the high-profile tech startup at $9.34 billion in the biggest tech IPO this year. The Tokyo-based company’s shares hit a high of $44.49 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange