Apple’s Generative AI Courtship: Cozying Up to Google and OpenAI?

When Apple unveils its big annual software updates like iOS 18 at WWDC this year, you can expect a heavy focus on the company’s AIpush and new generative capabilities. But exactly whose AI smarts will be fueling those features remains an open question – and Apple’s currently weighing some…unconventional options.

Apple in Talks With Google and OpenAI

Yes, you read that right. The historically insular and controlling Apple is currently in active discussions with both Google and OpenAI about potentially powering generative AI models debuting in upcoming iOS releases, according to sources close to the matter.

On the surface, these potential partnerships seem utterly bizarre. We’re talking about Apple – whose entire brand and ethos is deeply rooted in stringent user privacy and creating an ecosystem totally independent from rivals – openly exploring ties with two of its biggest competitors in Google and OpenAI

What’s Behind Apple’s Open Partnership Hunt?

So what gives? Why is the notoriously self-reliant Apple outsourcing such critical AI capabilities to outside parties, let alone arch-enemies like Google? The simple, though unsatisfying, answer seems to be a lack of in-house expertise when it comes to cutting-edge large language models needed for primo generative AI.

Despite its best efforts, Apple has yet to produce an LLM (large language model) on par with OpenAI’s GPT models or Google’s Gemini, with the AI race rapidly accelerating, it seems Apple has opted to swallow its pride – at least temporarily – and hitch its generative wagon to more established steers for the time being.

Of course, the eternal Apple optimist would point out that the company has pulled off similar Machiavellian maneuvers in the past when caught flat-footed. Think of Google powering Apple’s Maps app over a decade ago while the disastrous Apple Maps project slowly got its act together in the background.

Perhaps this generation’s Google/OpenAI partnership serves as a similar stopgap as Apple catches up its AI talents before vertically integrating everything under its tightly controlled roof.

Still, the optics of Apple wandering out of its fabled “walled garden” to seek AI escape routes from its two biggest Silicon Valley adversaries is…jarring, to say the least. No matter how you slice it, Apple’s desperation for generative AI has unearthed some truly bizarre bedfellows.

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Max Hyland
Max Hyland
Long form contributor Apple iPhone, iPad, watch reviews, opinion, editorial

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