As Apple Intelligence is set to add more brains to (a let’s face it, rather dim) Siri, is there more to this recent partnership than meets the AI eye?

Last week we promised an update on Apple’s AI Roadmap so here we dive a bit deeper into the announcements at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference on June 10th. We had questions on whether Apple would deliver big on its promise for new AI developments or become the latest piggy-backer on the AI bandwagon – so what’s the verdict?

The deal that undoubtedly surprised everyone at the event was Apple’s new partnership with OpenAI. Surprise to founder investor Elon Musk ($45m), who immediately threatened to ban the use of Apple devices in his companies because of an ‘unacceptable security violation’.  Microsoft on the other hand has probably had its mind on other things. Its $10bn investment in 2023 in Open AI’s ChatGPT is mostly in the form of its role as Open AI’s exclusive cloud provider. However, it is currently having to rent Oracle cloud capacity to cope with the huge demand while busy ploughing its own AI furrow with a massive $650m ‘acquisition’ of start-up Inflection AI.

But is this latest announcement a sign the AI arms race is heating up?

On the surface, the tie-up between OpenAI and Apple looks like a resounding win-win for both parties – one that even extends beyond monetary terms as recent reports claim Apple paid OpenAI nothing for the partnership, opting instead for a more valuable currency by today’s standards: Distribution.

The winner seems to be Open AI which now has its cloud capacity sewn up with Microsoft and its distribution assured with Apple.

From the Apple perspective

For Apple, the partnership promises to act as a stopgap to fill the void of its lagging AI capabilities while it plays catch up to rivals such as Google. Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant, has always been a disappointment for Apple with most people asking it to turn on a light rather than do anything more adventurous. But now OpenAI’s GPT language model and other tools will be deeply integrated with Siri, which is set for its first major overhaul in years. It’s a smart move for Apple, allowing the company access to state-of-the-art AI technology without having to develop it all itself.

In true Apple style, even the word ‘AI’ has been given a new meaning, with the Silicon Valley giant revealing the host of new features are part of its new developer framework dubbed “Apple Intelligence.” This will allow the iOS ecosystem to tap into OpenAI’s powerful generative AI model. But what does OpenAI get out of this?

And the winner is? OpenAI?

OpenAI gets a foothold in the iOS ecosystem, instantly putting its technology in the hands of hundreds of millions of Apple customers worldwide. It also gets access to the much sought-after user data that flows through Apple’s products and services daily — a potential gold mine for further training and refining OpenAI’s models (but also raising some red flags around future security implications!)

Microsoft got into the AI game early and clearly has a plan

As OpenAI and Apple become buddy-buddy over the AI campfire, Microsoft could seize an opportunity to turn its AI frenemy into a potential “Trojan horse inside the walls of one of its fiercest competitors”. Any insights OpenAI gleans from Apple’s user data and interaction patterns will benefit Microsoft too.

Meanwhile Microsoft clearly has a roadmap. After its acquisition in March of start-up Inflection AI, Microsoft has now lured away two of Inflection AI’s founders to head up the new Microsoft consumer AI division.

Apple too is still up for a fight, as rumor has it they’re open to integrating with other AI services like Google’s Gemini.

So join us as we watch this space to see which tech player (big and small) will make the next AI move. But don’t forget Google! It may have a thing or two to say about these new developments as we said in our recent blog!

Hannah Watson is PR Lead – Analytics at IBA International.

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