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Apple still has catching up to do in terms of AI

By ZHANG ZHOUXIANG | China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-14 07:20
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Apple CEO Tim Cook addresses the media next to the company's new Vision Pro augmented reality headset at the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California, on Monday. [Photo/Agencies]

It's easy for Apple to name its artificial intelligence function Apple Intelligence. And it no doubt thinks the slogan "AI for the rest of us" is smart.

But keeping the door shut on its AI for the majority of its users by only allowing iPhones carrying A17 Pro or M1 series of chips, or iPhone 15 Pro series, to use its AI may be easy but its probably not being smart. In other words, those using iPhone 15 series and earlier models, who account for the majority of iPhone users, will have to buy newer phones to gain access to Apple Intelligence.

The move might push a group of loyal Apple fans to dump their existing models and buy an iPhone 15 Pro or higher model, thus boosting iPhones' falling sales. But it will come at a cost of less data supply to train its AI model. With its total number of users worldwide reaching more than 1.3 billion, or about one-third of Android's 3.5 billion users, and having not announced any significant AI function until years after its Android competitors developed and diversified their products, Apple has already been falling behind OpenAI. Its close-minded move will only widen the gap.

After all, AI is a dynamic model and incessant input of content is necessary to keep it alive. With a smaller user base, that cannot be guaranteed.

However, Apple is now cooperating with OpenAI on the latter's ChatGPT model. That might make it somewhat dependent on other high-tech companies such as Google and invite criticism from others, such as X CEO Elon Musk, who raised questions about Apple's security with OpenAI technology. He even threatened to ban Apple devices in his companies, saying visitors will have to deposit their Apple devices in a Faraday cage.

Apple has so far worked in a closed system, but opening a window called AI might help it diversify its strategy.

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