LG Uplus partners with Naver to enter artificial intelligence speaker market

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LG Uplus, South Korea’s third-largest mobile carrier by revenue, on Monday announced its entry into the growing artificial intelligence speaker market in partnership with the country’s No.1 search engine Naver in order to take on bigger players SK Telecom and KT.

Naver’s AI platform Clova-based speaker Friends Plus edition will connect to LG Uplus’ set top box for Internet Protocol TV and home Internet of Things services, enabling users to control the mobile carrier’s services with voice commands. 

Naver CEO Han Seong-sook (left) and LG Uplus Vice Chairman & CEO Kwon Young-soo hold Friends artificial intelligence speakers at a press conference at the mobile carrier‘s headquarters in Yongsan, central Seoul, Monday. (LG Uplus)

The companies dubbed the collaborative home AI platform “U+ Our Home AI.” It is to provide voice-controlled services such as keyword searches for video-on-demand, operations of home utilities, information searches on Naver, foreign language tutoring and mobile shopping.

Partnering with Naver will give LG Uplus subscribers the advantage of accessing the search engine’s massive database, the mobile carrier said.

When issuing voice commands to search related information of a particular topic, users need to call “Clova” only once at the beginning of the first question, a major difference from rival AI speakers SKT’s NUGU and KT’s GiGA Genie, according to LG Uplus.

Naver’s translator Papago is also available, providing voice-activated translation of English, Chinese and Japanese.

Although LG Uplus is the smallest among three mobile carriers in terms of total revenue and subscribers, the company is taking the lead in the IPTV and home IoT markets.

It is No. 1 in the home IoT market with over 1 million subscribers, who account for 71 percent of the domestic market, according to the company.

“LG Uplus will provide smarter home IoT services with Naver’s AI platform, continuing to upgrade AI functions and offer more customized home services,” said Kwon Young-soo, vice chairman & CEO of LG Uplus.

New subscribers to LG Uplus’ IPTV or IoT services by Jan. 31 will receive the Friends speaker for free.

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