Apple Plans “Major” Push Into Gen AI

An upcoming conference should reveal all, but some information is already slipping out.

Apple has spent about $100 million on artificial intelligence research over the past five years, but the spigots should be opening up in the second half of 2024.

That after reports the technology giant is planning a “big push” into Generative AI, especially through its personal-use iPads and iPhone devices. Fresh interviews with national media have triggered the news, which Apple is expected to flesh out at its June Worldwide Developers Conference.

“We are making significant investments in the space,” Apple chief financial officer Luca Maestri told Bloomberg Television in an interview last week. “We believe we are well-positioned.”

Company CEO Tim Cook is also dropping some clues in the first week of May.

“I think AI, Generative AI and AI, both are big opportunities for us across our products,” Cook told analysts on its latest quarterly earnings call. “We’ll talk more about it in the coming weeks. I think there are numerous ways there that are great for us. And we think that we’re well-positioned.”

Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple is making headway on its artificial intelligence processors for data center servers. The Project ACDC initiative, several years in the making, expands the company’s chip design work for its iPhones and iPad product lines.

A New AI-Powered Chip

There’s more news on the Apple AI front.

In a May 2 post on Bloomberg News, reporter Mark Gurman cited a “long-awaited push” into Gen AI, with some new products already pointing the way.

This week, Apple is releasing its first Macs with M4 processors on its iPad Pro devices, which the company described as the “thinnest Apple product ever,” with the 11-inch iPad model weighing less than a pound.

The devices are also upgrading to Apple’s new M4 chip, a central processing unit that includes machine-learning accelerators that run 50% faster than Apple’s current M2 chip on iPad Pros. Apple says its M4 chips also operate on about 50% of the power as the M2 chip for the same performance. The company called the M4 “an outrageously powerful chip for AI.”

Cook is expected to lay out Apple’s AI strategy at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference but indicated the new Gen AI investments “will stand out from its AI rivals by tightly integrating hardware and software, using in-house chips, and making privacy and security a priority.” Apple is reportedly set to roll out its MR chip-powered Macs in the last quarter of 2024, and the buzz is that the release’s Gen AI capabilities will turn some industry heads.

On the analyst call, Cook alluded to the new Gen AI investments but stopped short of delivering too many specifics.

“We believe in the transformative power and promise of AI, and we believe we have advantages that will differentiate us in this new era, including Apple’s unique combination of seamless hardware, software and services integration, groundbreaking Apple’s silicon, with our industry-leading neural engines and our unwavering focus on privacy, which underpins everything we create,” he said on the call.

“I don’t want to get in front of our announcements, obviously,” he added. “I would just say that we see Generative AI as a very key opportunity across our products. And we believe that we have advantages that set us apart there.”

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