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Tech leaders flock to MWC to take cue for innovation
SK chairman makes big AI push, offers positive outlook for chips; Samsung's mobile chief hints at XR device under developmentBy Jie Ye-eun
Published : Feb. 28, 2023 - 15:23
Chiefs of South Korea’s major information and communication technology conglomerates attended the Mobile World Congress 2023, which kicked off in Barcelona, Spain, on Monday. As innovative future technologies ranging from telecommunications and mobile to artificial intelligence and robots are showcased at the event, they gathered to foster new growth engines.
On the first day of the MWC, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won visited the ICT trade show to support the group’s telecommunication arm SK Telecom’s AI services, while SKT CEO Ryu Young-sang and Roh Tae-moon, Samsung Electronics' president and mobile business chief, attended in support of their extended reality cooperation. KT Corp. CEO Ku Hyeon-mo called for continued support for the company’s digital communications, or "Digico," strategy-based services.
Chey explored SKT’s hyperscale AI service called “A.,” the AI-powered solution for transportation called “Litmus” and the AI chip “Sapeon.” He expressed interest in the impact of AI on environmental, social and governance activities. After listening to Litmus’ advantage of providing quick directions in real time, he said, “I think SKT can contribute a lot to carbon reduction.”
While it marked Chey’s first visit to the MWC, the SK chairman vowed to dedicate his energy to making SKT an AI company that contributes to humanity and society by combing and converging the telecommunications giant’s advanced technologies.
Chey also said it's not all doom and gloom facing the conglomerate’s flagship SK hynix. During the pandemic, the chip industry enjoyed brisk sales as people purchased or updated PCs and laptops for remote work, but it has faced a grim outlook amid sluggish demand for memory chips and lingering uncertainties surrounding the US-China rivalry.
“Recently, semiconductor cycles have become very short. I expect it to get better soon,” Chey said. Earlier in December, the chairman predicted the semiconductor industry’s downturn will not last long, as chip cycles have gotten shorter from the previous three years to one year.
SKT CEO and Samsung’s mobile chief showed off their solidified cooperation at the MWC, while the two firms hinted at an extended reality partnership at the 2022 trade show. After exploring SKT’s exhibition booth, Ryu tested out Samsung’s latest Galaxy S23 smartphones and praised Roh highly.
When asked about the cooperation between the two firms, Samsung's president said, “(The XR device) is still at the stage of advanced development. We’ll announce it when it’s ready.” Yet it is too early to mention the exact timeline, he added.
Besides Roh, Samsung's co-CEOs -- Han Jong-hee, head of the DX division and Kyung Kye-hyun, head of the DS division -- attended this year’s MWC to check out different innovative ICT trends.
In a press conference held a day before the MWC kicked off in Barcelona, Ryu announced the establishment of an alliance with major AI service providers, the so-called K-AI Alliance involving local AI companies such as Sapeon, Phantom AI, Bespin Global, Moloco, Konan Technology, Swit and Tuat, to foster the mobile carrier’s AI ecosystem.
While evolving into an AI company, the mobile carrier looks to expand its role in urban air mobility and metaverse-related business sectors. Regarding its partnership with Samsung as part of its alliance scheme, the CEO said that there is a “good possibility.”
KT’s CEO Ku Hyeon-mo, who recently publicized his official withdrawal from the company's leadership race, also attended the event to observe the wireless carrier’s digital transformation technology and related services. Although he was silent about his future course of action, a visibly tearful Ku said, “Please keep supporting ‘Digico’ KT.”
During his business trip to Barcelona, Ku also sought to build a partnership with Filipino fiber optic internet provider Converge ICT Solutions. On Monday, KT and Converge signed a partnership deal to realize digital transformation (DX) in the Philippines and to establish a joint venture for developing DX-related services.
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