Apple plots fashionably late arrival to generative AI party – report

Artificial Intelligence Concept. Microprocessor with the letters AI.

In keeping with its tradition of shaking up a market by being one of the last ones to enter it, Apple reportedly has designs on generative AI.

So says a report from Bloomberg this week, anyway. The outlet cited unnamed people in the know who claim that the iPhone maker has developed its own framework for large language models (LLMs) in an effort to compete with OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google Bard.

Using this framework, called “Ajax”, Apple has created a chatbot service that is supposedly referred to internally by engineers as “Apple GPT.”

According to the sources, both the framework and the chatbot were developed last year. But while rivals like OpenAI and Google have pushed on with launching their offerings to the public, Apple is taking it slowly, and to date has no firm plans to make Apple GPT available in its current state to the wider world.

Instead it has supposedly initiated a cross-company effort involving its AI, software, and cloud services engineers to work out the finer details, including how to implement AI into its various products and services, and how to pitch it to consumers.

This could make all the difference because with ChatGPT and Bard gaining real-world momentum, it might not serve Apple well to show up late with a ‘me-too’ version. It might be better to come up with a slightly different take on the generative AI market instead.

Apple isn’t always late to the party, of course. It pioneered the consumer tablet market with iPad, and with Siri it introduced the world to virtual assistants. But whenever it looks to enter an adjacent market, it differentiates in one or more key areas in an effort to gain a strong early foothold.

For instance, consider how it studiously avoided the term metaverse when it launched its augmented reality (AR) headset, Vision Pro.

Rivals like Meta (via Oculus), Sony and HTC have been in the VR hardware market for years in comparison to Apple, gaining greater experience of how to launch and market these devices.

So when Apple unveiled Vision Pro, it opted for a different term – spatial computing – to encapsulate its mixed reality activities, thereby avoiding the ‘me-too’ metaverse trap. It’s also worth noting that the headset’s hefty $3,500 price tag is also what sets it apart.

Will that work with AI though?

The advantage to having a publicly-available chatbot is that user interactions help to polish the underlying AI, resulting in a better experience. In addition, OpenAI is planning to launch version five of ChatGPT before the end of this year, and rumour has it that it will be so advanced it could usher in the age of artificial general intelligence (AGI), where machine intelligence is on par with human.

According to Bloomberg’s sources, Apple plans to make a significant AI-related announcement next year. However, there is a risk that by the time Apple GPT launches in whatever form Apple decides it should take, it will have a mountain to climb to catch up to OpenAI and Google.


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