LINE Enters Artificial Intelligence Competition to Dominate Asia

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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.

Line Social Media App. Image: Tech Cruch
Line Social Media App. Image: Tech Cruch


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.

LINE’s new smart home speakers, WAVE and the smaller CHAMP. Image:
LINE’s new smart home speakers, WAVE and the smaller CHAMP. Image:

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.

Line is the biggest tech IPO in 2016. Image: Brendan McDermid/Reuters
Line is the biggest tech IPO in 2016. Image: Brendan McDermid/Reuters


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


Indah Gilang Pusparani

Indah is a researcher at Badan Perencanaan Pembangunan Penelitian dan Pengembangan Daerah Kota Cirebon (Regional Development Planning and Research Agency of Cirebon Municipality). She covers More international relations, tourism, and startups in Southeast Asia region and beyond. Indah graduated from MSc Development Administration and Planning from University College London, United Kingdom in 2015. She finished bachelor degree from International Relations from University of Indonesia in 2014, with two exchange programs in Political Science at National University of Singapore and New Media in Journalism at Ball State University, USA. She was awarded Diplomacy Award at Harvard World Model United Nations and named as Indonesian Gifted Researcher by Australian National University. She is Researcher at Regional Planning Board in Cirebon, West Java. She previously worked as Editor in Bening Communication, the Commonwealth Parliament Association UK, and diplomacy consulting firm Best Delegate LLC in USA. Less
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