Just How Vital is AI for Apple’s Future?

Just How Vital is AI for Apple’s Future?

When it comes to artificial intelligence (AI), Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) may not receive as much attention as its tech counterparts like Google and Microsoft. It doesn’t boast about its AI capabilities like Google-parent Alphabet, nor has it formed a partnership with OpenAI like Microsoft. However, beneath the surface, Apple’s products and services heavily rely on AI, playing a significant role in the company’s present and future endeavors.

Take a closer look, and you’ll realize that all of Apple’s current products can be considered AI tools. The iPhone, which generates the majority of Apple’s revenue, stands out as its most prominent AI-powered device. Since introducing Siri in 2011, Apple has integrated AI into its flagship phone, enabling users to interact with a speech-based personal assistant that leverages AI to understand and process requests accurately.

Over the years, Apple has developed a range of machine learning (ML) application programming interfaces (APIs) that span across its entire product ecosystem. These APIs empower devices to comprehend vision, sound, natural language, and speech, enhancing the overall user experience. Core ML, for instance, integrates prebuilt ML features into various apps, running personalized models using advanced neural networks with minimal memory and power consumption. Create ML, on the other hand, allows users to train Core ML models on a Mac, opening up possibilities for AI-driven innovation.

Apple’s commitment to AI is further demonstrated by its significant investments in research and development. With approximately $177 billion in liquidity as of its fiscal 2023’s second quarter, Apple allocated over $15 billion to R&D in the first half of the fiscal year, a 20% increase from the previous year. Much of this investment is likely dedicated to AI-related projects, as Apple employs numerous developers and researchers who specialize in AI, ML infrastructure, deep learning, natural language processing, computer vision, and applied research. These teams collaborate to create new experiences across Apple’s product lineup.

However, Apple’s AI ambitions extend beyond in-house research. The company recognizes the importance of academia in advancing AI and ML. Through programs like Apple Scholars and the AIML Residency Program, Apple fosters partnerships with Ph.D. students and experts from top universities worldwide. These initiatives offer fellowships, mentorship, conference attendance, and publishing opportunities, creating a continuous flow of research and development, thus strengthening Apple’s competitive advantage in the AI space.

Although Apple hasn’t always marketed its innovations explicitly as AI, the technology underpins many of its recent product advancements. The company’s heavy reliance on AI, coupled with its commitment to ongoing research, solidifies its position as a key player in the AI landscape. As Apple continues to integrate AI into its products and invest in future AI developments, it is poised to remain at the forefront of AI innovation for the foreseeable future.

Disclaimer: Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. The author, Will Healy, has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Alphabet, Apple, and Microsoft.

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