Kakao CEO boasts of Kakao AI technology vowing to expand its presence

2017.09.21 15:53:13 | 2017.09.22 16:18:41

Rim Ji-hoon [Photo by Kakao Corp. ]이미지 확대

Rim Ji-hoon [Photo by Kakao Corp. ]

South Korea’s top mobile messenger operator Kakao Corp.’s artificial intelligent (AI) technology is competitive against its global peers, the company CEO Rim Ji-hoon said, vowing to expand its presence in AI sector through collaboration with companies in other industries.

“Kakao’s AI technology doesn’t fall behind the global peers,” Rim said at a press conference held to mark his leadership in Kakao for two years. He especially touted the company’s relentless effort to improve its voice-activated search engine, content recommendation feature, flower search program, and AI-backed translation app that have been launched since the company started to incorporate AI technology.

“Our company will (develop a system that will) allow people to use the AI-embedded interactive interface with any device at any time through collaboration with others,” Rim added.

Rim hinted the company and Samsung Electronics would roll out new AI solutions, saying that the two companies are currently in talks to enhance their partnership in the AI sector after they successfully launched Samsung Electronics’ Bixby, the voice-activated personal assistant, in Kakao Talk.

Kakao aims to “build an interactive interface applying AI” and guarantee seamless use of various devices with its AI technology backed by Kakao I Inside brand, Rim said, adding that he hoped many companies could realize the benefit of their collaboration with Kakao in attracting more customers.

Rim’s pledge to enhance its AI partnership with other companies comes after Kakao has reported stellar performance in its earnings in the first half of this year thanks to brisk sales in its music streaming and gaming businesses and recovery in the advertising business. The company expected to see tangible results in its new business related to AI technology following cooperation with Hyundai Motor, Samsung Electronics and GS Engineering & Construction.

On top of them, Kakao cheered the huge success of its online-only Kakao Bank and webcomic app Piccoma released in Japan. Encouraged by a slew of good news, investors have flocked to pick up Kakao shares, pushing up its shares more than 70 percent from a year ago. Shares of Kakao Thursday closed 0.35 percent down at 142,000 won from the previous session.

Regarding the potential of its mobile app Kakao Talk’s another attempt to make an inroad into overseas markets, Rim flatly rejected such an idea. The chat app’s previous attempts to lure consumers in Japan and Indonesia have ended in failure amid fierce competition with rivals including its archrival Naver’s mobile chat app “Line”.

“There are messengers already settled in each country, so it is no use of becoming the second or third runner,” said the CEO. “In some contents like game and emoticon, however, we can hold the dominant position as we have been witnessing the rapid growth of Kakao’s Japanese webcomic operation Piccoma.”

Regarding the Korean government’s move to start regulating portals, the head of Kakao highlighted Korean companies should not be reversely discriminated in doing business in the country against foreign peers. He also noted that the government should establish the foundation for “fair competition between Korean portals like Naver and Kakao and global IT businesses”.

By Oh Chan-jong

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