It’s widely felt that Apple is in danger of allowing the burgeoning AI market to get away from it. While Cupertino has yet to launch its first major AI product, Microsoft and Google (and, as the Macalope observes, pretty much everyone else up to probably Dunkin’ Donuts) got theirs out a while ago.
A report published by the Financial Times Wednesday, however, reveals the extent of Apple’s plan to target this market in the near future. The company has hired and acquired extensively in preparation for what increasingly looks like a major AI push.
Since 2017, Apple has made a total of 21 AI-related acquisitions, the most recent of which was the AI video compression start-up WaveOne. That’s more than any of its rivals. And it isn’t likely to stop there; the FT quotes Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives as saying he would be “shocked if they don’t do a sizeable AI deal this year, because there’s an AI arms race going on, and Apple is not going to be on the outside looking in.”
Apple is working to expand its AI capabilities on the personnel side too. It hired John Giannandrea, an AI guru who was head of search at Google, in 2018, and is constantly on the lookout for more talent in that area. What Apple is specifically interested in is generative AI, the realm of tools like ChatGPT that can rapidly create text or images to a wide range of prompts: according to Morgan Stanley, almost half of Apple’s AI job postings include the related term ‘Deep Learning’.
“Apple’s goal,” says the FT, “appears to be operating generative AI through mobile devices, which would allow AI chatbots and apps to run on the phone’s own hardware and software rather than be powered by cloud services in data centers.” We’ve said it before, but it looks more likely than ever that the iPhone 16 will be Apple’s first AI device.
It will be pleasing for Apple’s fans to hear that the company is taking the important AI market seriously, but there remain worries that this is all coming too late. As we reported earlier this month, Apple’s generative AI push isn’t likely to come to fruition until 2025 at the earliest.