Sunday, June 23, 2024

Let’s be real, Apple couldn’t hype its ChatGPT collab — that would mean conceding it’s lost the AI race

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Tech watchers expecting a sweeping partnership announcement between Apple and OpenAI were probably disappointed on Monday.

But OpenAI was barely mentioned on Monday, earning only a two-minute-long mention in a presentation that ran for over 100 minutes.

Apple also played it very cool about OpenAI’s involvement — and how much it would be integrated into its products — even as the collaboration was unveiled.

“You’ll be able to access ChatGPT for free, and without creating an account,” Apple’s software chief Craig Federighi said during the keynote. “Of course, you’re in control over when ChatGPT is used and will be asked before any of your information is shared.”

“We also intend to add support for other AI models in the future,” Federighi said.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman didn’t get to star in the presentation, though he did attend Monday’s keynote. Altman instead expressed his excitement about the partnership in an X post he published shortly after the event.

Apple’s reluctance to get on the OpenAI hype train might be due to a far more crucial point — hyping the partnership would have meant conceding defeat in the AI race.

The Cupertino-based giant has long aspired to dominate the AI race. It launched its digital assistant Siri in 2011 and recruited Google’s AI chief, John Giannandrea, to head its AI strategy in 2018.

However, cultural clashes and insufficient computing resources may have limited what Giannandrea’s team could do for Apple.

Apple falling back meant that Apple’s rivals Microsoft and Meta got to seize the narrative instead — see Microsoft’s early bet on OpenAI, and Meta’s focus on releasing its open-source AI models.

That isn’t to say that the iPhone maker is out of the race entirely.

Aside from poaching talent and working with external partners like OpenAI, Apple has also worked with TSMC to make AI chips for its data centers.

Making chips would go a long way toward securing Apple’s AI supremacy since, unlike most companies, it would not have to rely completely on chip giant Nvidia.

“It doesn’t surprise me that Apple focused on its own solutions because they want to emphasize that they are in control,” tech analyst Gene Munster said of Monday’s keynote, per the Financial Times.

Representatives for Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from BI sent outside regular business hours.

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