South Korean online platform Naver launched a generative AI service on Thursday as a competitor to ChatGPT.

The company announced plans to develop its AI offering in May to compete for overseas audiences.

The AI tool, HyperCLOVA X will be used in the search engine function of the platform to generate AI searches. It will also provide a chatbot function. The beta version will be available from Thursday.

Naver also announced plans to develop a new AI chip with Samsung Electronics to support its AI development.

Launched in 1999 as a search engine, the South Korean company was the first web portal to use comprehensive search, a feature that compiles results from various categories.

In 2017, the search engine processed 74.7% of all web searches in South Korea and had 42m registered users.

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By GlobalData

As South Korea’s leading web portal, Naver launched its own “metaverse” social media in 2018 with ZEPETO, which offers users a space to create digital avatars, meet and chat in different virtual worlds. 

Unlike other metaverse platforms, Naver’s Zepeto attracted a massive, active user base. By 2022, the application has attracted 340m users since it launched in 2018.

Naver also came under fire in 2020 when it was fined $22.9m by South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) for algorithm manipulation to favour its own services between 2012 and 2015.