Apple says it will showcase its GenAI effort “later this year”

Apple says it will showcase its GenAI effort “later this year”

Image credits: Jonathan Cherry/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Apple has dropped another crumb to investors wondering when the world will be able to see some GenAI “Made in Cupertino”: Expect Apple to reveal what it has been working on in this buzzy slice of AI “later this year,” the president says Executive Tim Cook.

During an earnings call yesterday, Apple’s CEO emphasized its continued investment in AI, along with other “groundbreaking innovations” — as he put it — such as the technologies that power Apple’s Vision Pro VR/AR headset, saying: “We continue to… We have spent a tremendous amount of time and effort, and we are excited to share details of our ongoing work in this area later this year.

There is no longer any guidance on exactly when Cupertino will pull back the curtain on its AI efforts. But the annual developers conference, WWDC, is usually held in June – and it will definitely be one date to keep an eye on for any big reveal here.

Analysts following the call were interested in “possible upcoming announcements around AI,” and during the Q&A portion of the Q1 2024 earnings call, Cook fanned the flames of anticipation a bit more, moving away from enthusiasm around “enterprise opportunities” for Vision Pro to a reference to Generative AI directly.

“In terms of generative AI, which I think is your focus, we have a lot of work going on internally, as I mentioned before,” he said. “Our approach, if you will, has always been to do the work and then talk about the work and not get out in front of ourselves. So we’ll stick to that as well. But we have some things that we’re incredibly excited about, which we’ll talk about later this year.” “

Apple’s senior leadership team was also asked about the level of investments it is making in artificial intelligence, given the size of some of the bets other technology companies are making.

CFO Luca Maestri responded succinctly and optimistically – but without putting any numbers on spending – to that question. “We have always said that we will never invest in this business. Therefore, we make all necessary investments at all stages of our product development and software development services. “So we will continue to invest in each area of ​​the business – and at the appropriate level – and we are very excited about what the rest of the year has in store for us.”

The iPhone maker also asked a question about edge processing and AI during the call, with another analyst asking if he “is a believer in the edge hypothesis that AI and processing on smartphones and devices like yours will have a big role in AI and AI applications and that’s something you can leverage.” you guys “.

Cook wasn’t tempted to throw out anything bigger than crumbs (to continue the metaphor) — but he did offer, perhaps, what amounted to a wink toward the core of the query, asserting: “Let me just say that I think there’s a huge opportunity for Apple with Gen AI and AI — without getting into… More details and standing in front of myself.”

Apple’s long-standing positioning of itself as pro-privacy and pro-user presents both a challenge and an opportunity when it comes to generative AI, which requires massive amounts of (often personal) data to train its search engine AI models for utility.

However, if Apple can offer users GenAI tools that don’t require users’ data to be uploaded to a third-party cloud somewhere, with all the privacy and security risks that could entail, and instead, the processing to run the technology can be done locally on the device. . , it can – potentially – carve itself (and its ecosystem) out into a niche versus the current data-gobbling market leaders in GenAI. (OpenAI, for example, is now facing charges that its chatbot, ChatGPT, violates European data protection laws in areas such as training AI models.)

When it comes to edge AI, performance will of course be key. But this is Apple — and making products by developing its own hardware and software is its business — so if anyone has the resources and rationality to implement privacy-conscious GenAI development, it’s Apple.

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