Thursday, May 23, 2024

Apple looks kind of ridiculous right now

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While Apple’s Big Tech competitors have announced leaps forward in the artificial intelligence space this month, the iPhone maker has instead said it’s bringing consumers thinner iPads.

It’s going to have to do a bit better, analysts say.

OpenAI and Google’s demonstrations on May 13 and May 14, respectively, showed the two companies pushing AI capabilities forward. In OpenAI CEO Sam Altman’s words, it’s a bit of “magic,”

OpenAI’s new GPT-4o, introduced Monday, can translate speech, identify emotions over video, and tutor students. Google’s Gemini can plug into Gmail to summarize emails, create spreadsheets based on information, and formulate replies.

Even Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram have integrated Meta’s AI into app search fields.

Apple, though, has kept pretty quiet about its own AI ambitions so far — and it’s increasingly obvious.

“The buzz around AI, and specifically GenAI, has been so deafening that Apple is noticeable by omission,” Dipanjan Chatterjee, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, told Business Insider.

And while it’s in Apple’s nature to focus more on products — like its announcement about its new iPads on May 7 — the tight-lipped culture it’s famous for is “about to give out” in the face of calls for more clarity about its AI strategy, Chatterjee said.

It’s all adding pressure for Apple to stick the landing on the technology at next month’s Worldwide Developers Conference now that Google and OpenAI have unveiled their arsenals.

“Apple’s way behind when it comes to AI,” Gene Munster, managing partner at Deepwater Asset Management, told BI.

Munster said Apple should consider both of this week’s events a “wake-up call.” He predicts that Apple’s only option to catch up is to partner with OpenAI or Google, saying it’d be nearly impossible for Apple to “close the gap” with AI competitors on its own.

While Apple’s reportedly been in talks with both companies about bringing either OpenAI or Gemini to the next iPhone, there have been no official announcements on its plans in the burgeoning field — unlike Google and OpenAI’s massive, live-streamed presentations.

Apple’s big announcement last week was a new and improved version of the iPad — a product that’s been around for 14 years.

Still, if the rumors about OpenAI or Gemini iPhone integration are true, this week’s “strong announcements actually would bode well for Apple,” William Kerwin, an analyst at Morningstar, said.

He continued: “The voice application in the new GPT-4o model looked like it was primed for Siri integration to me, if it works out that way.”

And Wedbush’s Dan Ives warned people not to count Apple out of the AI “Game of Thrones” just yet, even if it feels like Microsoft, Google, and OpenAI are ahead in the game right now.

The analyst told BI that the new iPad rollout is simply an “appetizer to the real meat and potatoes” of Apple’s AI strategy, expected to be announced at the WWDC in June.

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