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Line launches $125 Clova Wave smart speaker in Japan ahead of Amazon and Google

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Mobile messaging giant Line has officially entered the smart speaker fray with the launch of the Clova Wave in the company’s native Japanese market.

As with other similar devices on the market, the Clova Wave allows users to control music playback and request information such as weather, while it sports a TV remote control feature and also allows users to read and send Line messages.

Above: Clova Wave

Line first announced Wave at its conference back in June, shortly after unveiling an Alexa-style digital assistant called Clova. The company introduced a trial version of the device in July. Following feedback, the Clova Wave is available now for JPY14,000 ($125) through Line’s own Clova website, as well as Amazon and Rakuten.

Line has also previously announced another smart speaker called Champ, which comes in the form of Line Friends characters. There is no word on when these will be available to buy.

Above: Line Champ

A subsidiary of South Korea’s biggest web operator, Naver Corp, Line has grown to more than 220 million users through the popularity of its WhatsApp-style messaging app, though most of those users are in its four major markets — Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Indonesia. Shortly after its dual IPO which included the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the company announced that it would abandon plans to target the U.S., while declaring that AI and chatbots were the secret to winning in its core Asian markets.

The Clova Wave very much fits into Line’s effort on this front, but today’s launch news comes just as rivals Amazon and Google prepare to pounce on the Japanese smart speaker market. Just yesterday Amazon announced that it would be bringing Echo and Alexa to Japan later this year, and later that day Google too revealed that Home would be rolled out there as soon as this week.

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