April 13, 2024

People looking at the iPhone 15 in an Apple store

The Apple flagship store in Beijing
Photo: Kevin Frayer (Getty Images)

Apple is looking for ways through China’s AI regulations, and might turn to Baidu to do it.

The iPhone-maker has reportedly talked to Baidu, which built China’s answer to ChatGPT, Ernie Bot, about using its AI technology in Apple devices sold in China. Apple has already talked with other tech companies, including Google and OpenAI, about using their AI technology in its iPhones and other mobile devices, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Meanwhile, Apple has reportedly sought AI companies local to China, like Baidu, to provide that technology due to tight regulations over publicly released AI products developed in the country. AI models are required to undergo a “security assessment” before public release, according to rules from the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC).

Over 40 generative AI models from Chinese companies have been approved by the CAC since the rule was announced in August. The regulations state AI-generated content should “reflect the core values of socialism, and must not contain subversion of state power.” However, sources told the Journal the talks are exploratory, and it is unknown if Apple has sought to work with other AI companies in China. Neither Apple nor Baidu immediately responded to a request for comment.

Apple CEO Tim Cook was in China this week for the opening of a new store in Shanghai. iPhone sales have slumped in the country, down 24% year-over-year during the first six weeks of 2024, according to Counterpoint Research. Although part of the steep decline has to do with “abnormally high” iPhone sales during the same period the previous year driven by production issues in December 2022, Apple also faces competition in the Chinese smartphone market from China’s Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi. Cook also traveled to China in October amid a weak start to iPhone 15 sales in the country.

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