Samsung to improve voice assistance service with Viv buy
KIM JAEWON, Nikkei staff writer
SEOUL -- Samsung Electronics said Thursday it was buying U.S. artificial intelligence developer Viv Labs to improve voice assistance services for its smartphones and home appliances.
The South Korean technology giant said it had agreed to purchase the Silicon Valley company established by developers of Apple's voice assistant Siri. Samsung did not disclose the deal price.
Analysts say that Samsung will benefit from the acquisition by applying Viv's artificial intelligence technology to its wide range of devices and services.
"The deal is a win-win strategy for both Samsung and Viv," said Cho Sung-Bae, a computer science professor at Yonsei University in Seoul. "Samsung may obtain essential technology with the acquisition as Viv is believed to have skills to analyze big data and create an agent based on the information."
Cho says that Samsung will use the AI technology not only in smartphones but also in home appliances.
Samsung is still battling a smartphone battery disaster caused by a series of explosions from its newly launched Galaxy Note 7s. Samsung resumed sales of its latest smartphone model with new batteries last week after announcing a global recall of 2.5 million devices a month ago.
Samsung said that the acquisition would help the company deliver an AI-based open ecosystem in all its devices and services, such as smartphones, wearables and home appliances.
"Viv has a sophisticated natural language understanding, machine learning capabilities and strategic partnerships that will enrich a broader service ecosystem," said Injong Rhee, chief technology officer of mobile communications at Samsung.
Shares of Samsung rose 4.45% to 1,691,000 won on Thursday, hitting a record high after U.S. hedge fund Elliott Management said the company should split up its businesses and pay higher dividends to investors. Elliott also called for the company to simplify its corporate structure.
Elliott's two affiliates -- Blake Capital and Potter Capital -- sent a letter to Samsung board directors Wednesday, pressuring them to split the company into a holding entity and an operating entity. The U.S. funds said that the demerger would benefit stakeholders if the group rationalized and gained better control over its businesses.