How Apple Can Leapfrog Its AI Rivals

Apple has fallen woefully behind its big tech rivals in the realm of AI development, but the company has unique strengths that can help it leapfrog the competition....
How Apple Can Leapfrog Its AI Rivals
Written by Matt Milano
  • Apple has fallen woefully behind its big tech rivals in the realm of AI development, but the company has unique strengths that can help it leapfrog the competition.

    Apple captures users’ imagination with Siri, which became a fully-integrated part of iOS in 2011. Despite the promise it held, Siri never seemed to reach its full potential, and Apple quickly fell behind Google and Amazon in the virtual assistant market.

    As companies like OpenAI and Anthropic began developing the next generation of AIs, Apple was nowhere to be found. Only after the release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Anthropic’s Claude, and Google’s Gemini did whispers coming from Cupertino hint that Apple was ready to get serious about generative AI.

    Despite its current position, Apple could leapfrog its rivals in short order and take a dominant lead in the AI market.

    Apple Does Its Best Work Perfecting Technologies

    Apple has a well-earned reputation as an innovative company, but it’s important to note that innovation and invention are not always the same thing.

    Looking at Apple’s long history of successful products, very few of them were the first of their kind to the market. The Mac personal computer, the laptop, the iPad, the iPhone, and the iPod were all refinements on ideas and product categories that already existed.

    Read More: Apple’s Secret Weapon: ReALM AI

    What Apple does better than almost any other company, however, is recognize pain points that are preventing a given technology from going mainstream, address those pain points, and release a product that is far better than what came before it.

    There’s no reason Apple can’t do the same thing with AI. Despite its advances, AI still has many pain points. There are privacy concerns, questions about copyrights, energy concerns, and more. Of the many companies investing in AI, Apple is uniquely suited to address many of these concerns.


    One of the biggest concerns with AI is privacy. AI models consume vast amounts of data for training purposes, but the privacy issues don’t stop there. Because the vast majority of commercial AI models are cloud-based, there is the issue of data sovereignty and privacy as queries are sent to and from the cloud.

    In contrast, all evidence indicates that Apple is focusing heavily on on-device AI models. In other words, the processing would be done on an individual’s device rather than sending data to and from the cloud. This would give Apple a major leg up among consumers who are concerned with privacy.

    Beyond consumers, it could put Apple at a unique advantage as privacy legislation catches up with the technology.

    Apple has decades of experiencing working with publishers, music labels, studios, and other creatives, working out licensing deals for their content. Reports indicate that Apple applied that experience to AI, approaching various outlets to negotiated deals to use their content for training purposes, in some case to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.

    As a result of this approach, Apple may end up being one of the only AI companies that avoids a copyright lawsuit over how its models were trained.


    Apple already has a major advantage in computer technology thanks to its M-series custom silicon. The chips offer incredible performance at a fraction of the heat and energy consumption of Intel or AMD chips. What’s more, Apple has a long history of designing semiconductors with a view to delivering a solution that provides the best integration with its software.

    See Also:: Apple’s New M4 Macs Could Be AI Powerhouses

    There’s no reason to believe Apple can’t do the same thing when it comes to AI, and reports indicate it is doing just that. Apple is reportedly working on its own AI server chip, no doubt applying the lessons it has learned over decades of designing chips.

    If Apple is able to apply the same level of vertical integration to whatever AI chips that it designs—similar to how it has done with the M-series chips—the company could quickly become an AI powerhouse.

    Apple Understands What Customers Want

    One of Apple’s greatest strengths is understanding what customers want and providing solutions that make their lives easier. For all of AI’s promise, there are still elements of it that feel like a novelty, like a solution looking for a problem.

    Apple, more than any other company, stands the best chance of delivering an AI solution that ordinary people can use and come to rely on in their day-to-day lives.

    There’s no doubt that Apple has a ways to go if it wants to catch up with its rivals in the AI space, let alone leapfrog them. If there’s any company that can do it, it’s Apple.

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