June 23, 2024

Apple’s Fifth Avenue store in New York City.

Apple’s Fifth Avenue store in New York City.
Photo: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg (Getty Images)

Apple has been widely critiqued for its radio silence on the AI front, as rival after rival announces new generative artificial intelligence chatbots, chips, and other features. The tech giant is finally expected to announce its AI strategy next week during its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), but Apple’s tardiness on AI is “entirely on brand,” says Forrester principal analyst Dipanjan Chatterjee.

Apple’s AI features will be less about the AI race and more about how they enhance Apple’s products for its customers, Chatterjee said. “The company has always been famously obsessed with what its offerings did for its customers rather than how it did it,” he wrote in emailed statements to Quartz. “The first iPod, for example, was about putting ‘1,000 songs in your pocket,’ not about the miracles of digitization and miniaturization. Hence, Apple was loath to talk about the guts of the tech that powered its devices.”

Apple wasn’t the first company to put mp3s on small devices (i.e. with its iPods) or the first to make smartphones or smartwatches. But it ultimately became the dominant company in the markets for those products, so much so that it came under fire from both consumers and federal regulators. Apple defeated a class action lawsuit in 2014 that alleged its iPod policies violated antitrust laws. The company faces a tougher case filed this year by the Department of Justice filed this year charging that it has monopolized the smartphone market.

Bank of America analysts anticipate that Apple will eventually make AI-powered smartphones — so-called “intelliphones” — that will lead the future of telecommunications. Apple is expected to unveil the first iteration of such an iPhone on June 10, the first day of the WWDC. The company will reportedly unveil new AI enhancements to Siri and a partnership with OpenAI to put ChatGPT on its new iPhone operating system, the iOS 18.  Chatterjee said “the time is ripe” for such announcements from Apple.

But Chatterjee’s fellow Forrester principal analyst Thomas Husson cautioned that “for the time being, AI is not at a point where it will become the primary argument to buy a new smartphone.”

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