Apple CEO Tim Cook has just revealed that the company has been working on generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools “for years.” The surprise announcement suggests that Apple could launch a ChatGPT rival — supposedly dubbed “Apple GPT” — sooner than anyone expected.
The announcement was made in an interview with Reuters following Apple’s third-quarter earnings report. Cook explained that higher research and development (R&D) spending at the company had been driven in part by an increased focus on generative AI.
“We’ve been doing research across a wide range of AI technologies, including generative AI, for years,” Cook said. “We’re going to continue investing and innovating and responsibly advancing our products with these technologies to help enrich people’s lives. Obviously, we’re investing a lot, and it is showing up in the R&D spending that you’re looking at.”
It’s a remarkably frank admission for a company that likes to keep its cards close to its chest. It’s exceedingly unusual for Apple to discuss its future plans, especially in an area like generative AI that could be ripe with lucrative opportunities.
Aside from the rarity of Cook’s comments, they also bring up another interesting point: they could signal that Apple is gearing up to make a major declaration regarding generative AI.
That certainly chimes with comments made by Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman just a couple of weeks ago. Gurman explained that Apple is developing an “Apple GPT” chatbot that could be revealed in a “significant AI-related announcement” as soon as next year.
The fact that Apple has been working on generative AI for years — and that Tim Cook feels now is the right time to unveil the news to the world — suggests that Apple GPT could be at an advanced stage of development. After all, Apple won’t want to keep the world waiting after making such a notable admission.
At the same time, it ramps up the pressure on Apple, now that the cat is out of the bag. There have been concerns that the company could be late to the AI party, and at least one respected analyst has said the company is years behind rivals like ChatGPT.
But with Tim Cook saying Apple has years of research backing up its generative AI efforts, Apple fans will be hoping that the product lives up to the hype. We might not have long to wait before we find out.
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