South Korea’s Naver launches generative AI services

By Ju-min Park

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean internet giant Naver unveiled on Thursday its own generative artificial intelligence (AI) tool, joining the frenzy around the new technology initiated by OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot late last year.

Despite the hype around the burgeoning technology and billions of dollars of investment, most companies and developers have yet to monetise the technology.

Naver said its AI product, named HyperCLOVA X, will provide generative AI-driven searches for users as well as new customised services for enterprise clients.

HyperCLOVA X has a suite of tools including chatbot application CLOVA X aimed at improving web search, online shopping and navigation services, and a generative AI function Cue that can be plugged into its search engine.

Naver will start beta services for CLOVA X from Thursday, and for Cue in September, according to the company.

Naver has said it is jointly developing with Samsung Electronics new chip solutions that will be smaller and more efficient to support its AI technology development.

The company plans to open a new data centre for the HyperCLOVA X services in November, Naver said on Thursday.

“We are ready to face a new transformation called generative AI,” Naver chief executive Choi Soo-yeon said in a statement.

While it’s behind frontrunners such as Microsoft-backed OpenAI and Alphabet’s Google, Naver and its domestic rivals are looking to tap niche markets that have not yet been addressed by U.S. and Chinese tech giants.

Naver is looking to develop localised AI applications for countries with political sensitivities in the Middle East as well as for non-English speaking countries and regions, such as Japan and Southeast Asia.

(Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Miyoung Kim and Sam Holmes)