According to a report by Stocklytics, Apple acquired 32 different AI startups during the 2023 calendar year — the most among major tech companies.
“In the ongoing AI arms race, Apple is making sizeable deals with many AI startups, putting it in a good spot for future tech developments even as its competitors, Microsoft and Google, make considerable investments in already established AI companies,” says Stocklytics Financial Analyst Edith Reads. “By acquiring promising AI startups, Apple gains access to top-tier talent and innovative technologies and consolidates its foothold in crucial AI domains, ensuring a competitive edge in the rapidly evolving tech landscape.”
From the report: Back in 2020, Apple Inc. purchased Voysis, an AI startup involved in making digital voice assistants that naturally aid in comprehending natural language. Apple bought the company with the intention of improving Siri, the virtual assistant within its devices.
The Silicon Valley heavyweight also acquired WaveOne in March 2023, whose technology is helpful in ample video compression. Other Apple-secured technologies are Emotient, Laserlike, Drive.AI, and AI.Music, some of which have been embedded in iPhones, Apple watches, and Macs.
While Apple has updated the software and hardware in its devices with the help of AI and machine learning, companies like Google and Samsung have moved progressively faster with their latest phones and devices, building their own generative AI. The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and Galaxy S24+ have got many people excited and running to the shelves to get their own Galaxy AI-powered devices.
However, statistics show Apple is well ahead of its competitors in equity and add-on investment in AI technologies since 2017, with about 21%, while Microsoft holds 12%. Alphabet Inc. lies in the single digits at 8%.
Apple is looking to add more acquisitions even as it plans to bring on board Brighter.AI, a German-based startup, to improve its new headset, the Apple Vision Pro. While its competitors seem well ahead, that may change in the coming years.
Along the same lines, in a October 23 “Power On” newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said that “one of the most intense and widespread endeavors at Apple Inc. right now is its effort to respond to the AI frenzy sweeping the technology industry.”
He said that, as noted before, the company built its own large language model called Ajax and rolled out an internal chatbot dubbed “Apple GPT” to test out the functionality. The critical next step is determining if the technology is up to snuff with the competition and how Apple will actually apply it to its products, according to Gurman.
He aid that Apple’s senior vice presidents in charge of AI and software engineering, John Giannandrea and Craig Federighi, are spearheading the effort. On Cook’s team, they’re referred to as the “executive sponsors” of the generative AI push.
“Eddy Cue, the head of services, is also involved, I’m told. The trio are now on course to spend about $1 billion per year on the undertaking,” Gurman wrote. “Giannandrea is overseeing development of the underlying technology for a new AI system, and his team is revamping Siri in a way that will deeply implement it. This smarter version of Siri could be ready as soon as next year, but there are still concerns about the technology and it may take longer for Apple’s AI features to spread across its product line.”
Also from his report:
° Federighi’s software engineering group is adding AI to the next version of iOS.
° Apple’s software engineering teams are also looking at integrating generative AI into development tools like Xcode.
° Cue’s organization is pushing to add AI to as many apps as possible. The group is exploring new features for Apple Music, including auto-generated playlists, as well as the company’s productivity apps.