Samsung Elec, SK Telecom, Kakao to create dream team Korea on AI solutions

2020.02.07 13:57:39 | 2020.02.07 14:25:46

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The best of the Korean high-tech will form a dream team on artificial intelligence power.

Samsung Electronics Co., SK Telecom Co., and Kakao Corp. will forge an alliance to create AI venture against global alliances led by multinational names Amazon, Google and Apple.

Park Jung-ho, chief executive officer of SK Telecom, Korea’s leading wireless carrier, reportedly reached out to Samsung Electronics and Kakao, the operator of the country’s largest mobile messenger app, early January and proposed creating an alliance that focuses on co-developing powerful AI solutions, especially, virtual assistance services that are largely led by foreign forces such as Amazon, Google, and Apple.

The three parties aim to launch the AI alliance in late February at the earliest, according to industry sources on Thursday.

The first commercial collaboration would be voice-activated solutions. Since 2016, a number of Korean companies have released their own intelligent virtual assistant services, including Samsung’s Bixby, SK Telecom’s Nugu, and Kakao Mini, but none has been able to make a strong presence in the market yet.

While the local players have been struggling to attract users, global tech behemoth Amazon and Google have rapidly expanded their shares not only in the global voice assistant market but also in the local market. Amazon’s Alexa is used by over 20,000 products of 3,500 companies across the world. The number of Google Assistant- equipped devices sold worldwide exceeded 1 billion last year.

“The world will evolve to have all machines controlled by voice,” said an unnamed telecom industry official. “If Korean companies do not want to fall behind as a simple user, radical collaboration is not an option but a must.”

In late December, three of the world’s biggest and highly competitive tech giants – Amazon, Google, and Apple – teamed up to create a joint technology standard, which is aimed to make their smart home technology more compatible with different devices. Separately, Amazon and Microsoft are already working together to have their voice assistants work at each other’s operating systems.

Apart from the partnership, the three Korean tech companies are also moving aggressively to expand their AI technology capabilities.

Samsung Electronics in January set up a team called a next-generation platform center that leads AI, internet of things, and deep learning technology projects. SK Telecom is readying to integrate its Nugu voice assistant to its T phone calling app. Kakao is working to have more smart home appliances controlled through Kakao Mini smart speaker.

By Lim Young-sin, Lee Seung-yoon, and Cho Jeehyun

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