In brief: LG Electronics has confirmed its intention to continue to promote its strong focus on artificial intelligence (AI) during the CES 2019 trade show, due to take place in Las Vegas in early January. The announcement also confirmed the keynote presentation will be given by the company’s President and Chief Technology Officer Dr. I.P. Park, with LG scheduling its keynote presentation for Monday, January 7 at 18:30 local time. LG did not provide any specifics on what will be announced at the event, but did take the opportunity to highlight how AI will be central to the announcements made by the company. LG will look to do this through continuing the use of the “AI for an Even Better Life” theme, which according to the announcement, will this time around “offer fresh perspectives” on how AI can improve the lives of users.
Background: LG’s transition to a company that focuses on AI is not likely to be news to some as the company has been clearly laying this path over the last year. For example, almost all of the company's major smartphone releases in the last year have adopted the “ThinQ” moniker and this was understood to be part of LG’s long-term approach to ensure its smartphone portfolio is more in sync with its other smart home and IoT-related products. Due to ThinQ being LG’s branding for its AI solution and related technologies. Likewise, this is not just a naming change that has taken place, as those same phones have come to market with a much clearer focus on being smarter than ever before and this has resulted in AI’s reach stretching through to almost every area of the smartphone a user is likely to come into contact with. Generally speaking, LG has adopted the same approach with its other products as well, with LG looking to bring as many of its devices together in a way that represents the greater whole, opposed to a collection of individual products.
In reality, even the “AI for an Even Better Life” theme is not new as LG first properly unveiled the umbrella term as this year’s IFA 2018 event in Berlin in August. At the time, the company explained this was the new “strategic direction” LG was moving towards in regards to its AI ambitions. Also during IFA, LG further explained the use of AI for an Even Better Life was designed to focus on the varying aspects of a consumer’s life, which could in effect be boiled down to three main tenets: “Evolve,” “Connect” and “Open.” This was once again something that was reiterated in today’s announcement as underpinning the company's CES 2019 keynote presentation, along with the confirmation the tenets will be discussed specifically in relation to AI usage in the home, when on the road, and when at work. Although LG did not elaborate on this point any further. On a side note, the announcement also picked up on LG’s commitment to becoming more of a “lifestyle innovator” in the future, instead of a company that's just primarily thought of as a product manufacturer. With the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019 due to officially begin on January 8, and continue through until January 11, this will mean LG will be one of the first companies to announce, if not the first, its latest products at the event.
Impact: It’s probably a little early to speculate too much on what this announcement means other than suggesting LG is going to continue to build upon its approach of harmonizing its varying products under an AI umbrella and to the point where the AI capabilities of upcoming LG products will be the main selling point with other features only highlighted in relation to their AI basis. On the smartphone front, it should probably not be expected that LG will make any major smartphone announcements at the event, as these will most likely be kept back for when Mobile World Congress (MWC) takes place slightly later in the year. This is something LG, and most other phone-invested brands, have increasingly been doing in the past with MWC becoming the go-to event for major phone announcement, while at the same time CES has continued to further cement its position as a smart home and IoT-centric event. For example, during this year’s CES event in January, LG announced a number of new TVs, as well as washing machines, refrigerators and other home appliances, as well as a few audio solutions, such as speakers. All of which were fairly unified as products built upon, and compatible with the company's widening ThinQ platform. Therefore, it seems likely more of the same will be announced at CES 2019 with LG taking the opportunity to paint a clearer picture of how it plans to announce a number of products throughout the year which will not only connect to the ThinQ ecosystem, but also be further representative of the new lifestyle image LG is trying to carve out for itself. In short, it probably should be expected that more TVs, smart home appliances, and speakers are announced that are compatible with the ThinQ platform.
What may prove to be more interesting during this event, however, is the other ways in which the ecosystem will account for on-the-road and in the office use cases. With these two areas likely to prove the most revealing in terms of new products compared to the number of updated products that will be announced for the home. On a more wider event note, Dr. I.P. Park through the current announcement explains that CES 2019 is expected to represent an “inflection point” for AI. In other words, LG is clearly stating how it's of the understanding this is the event in which CES will become more about AI than not about AI. If correct, then CES 2019 will in effect be the tipping point for AI, and it would seem LG is keen to ensure that it's positioned as the leading light when this milestone in the trade show's history is reached. An aspect in itself, which likely further adds to LG's clear goal of becoming a leader in the AI field.