Apple is falling behind its Big Tech rivals in the race to functional AI, hampered by internal issues and a lack of “a lack of ambition.”
Apple achieved early acclaim when it launched its Siri virtual assistant, but the company has done little to nothing to capitalize on that early effort. In recent months, it has seen Microsoft and Google launch large-scale AI models, in ChatGPT and Bard, but seems to have nothing to answer with, despite hiring Google executive John Giannandrea to head up its efforts.
According to The Information, via 9to5Mac, “organizational dysfunction and a lack of ambition” are holding back Apple’s efforts. One of the biggest challenges is keeping talent at the company, with Google going to great lengths to poach some of Apple’s engineers. In fact, in the case of Srinivasan Venkatachary, Steven Baker, and Anand Shukla, Google was so intent on poaching them “that its CEO, Sundar Pichai, personally wooed the group.” The effort was successful, despite Apple CEO Tim Cook’s attempts to keep them.
Morale and confidence in Siri appear to be at an all-time low,
Inside Apple, Siri remains widely derided for its lack of functionality and improvements since Giannandrea took over, say multiple former Siri employees. For example, the team building Apple’s mixed-reality headset, including its leader Mike Rockwell, has expressed disappointment in the demonstrations the Siri team created to showcase how the voice assistant could control the headset, according to two people familiar with the matter. At one point, Rockwell’s team considered building alternative methods for controlling the device using voice commands, the people said (the headset team ultimately ditched that idea).
Tensions appear to be running high among the teams working on the issues, and many believe Siri may never be able to effectively compete with ChatGPT and like models.
Apple clearly has an AI problem and will need to make major changes if it intends to keep pace with developments.