Apple can’t buy it’s way into AI

Have you heard of Google Crowdsource? It’s been around for years,

a lot of volunteers helping Google become even better at AI. Thousands of people doing image label verification, or audio validation, handwriting verification and millions of other clever ways to help Google improve. I am Level35 because I found it interesting from the start. I enjoyed the tech talks from Google AI people and the seminars. You know, back when AI wasn’t all the rage like it is now.

Or maybe you have heard of Google Photos. A ridiculous in scale endeavour whereby Google gave the entire planet (after all 8 out of 10 smartphones run on Android, not iOS) infinite photo backup. Thus sucking up the greatest free database of images anywhere. Ever. While iPhone users all have phones out of storage because they don’t want to pay anymore than they already pay every month to Apple.

These are just two examples that you might not have thought of. Of course Google Maps, YouTube or Google Search are also on a scale way beyond anything Apple can even imagine. This isn’t like Siri, Apple can’t just throw 200 million to buy an SRI equivelant to catch up. In fact Siri is an excellent example because even when it was launched it was many years behind Google. Much like with Apple Maps, Apple seems content to have an inferior product simply window dressed for the North American market.

Google has invested long term in making Google Maps a globally relevant product. There has been a vibrant group of contributors adding to the quality of the data and the AI. Apple has been too busy trying to upsell devices at a greater profit margin to bother to improve its products. Some say it’s the “dark horse” playing “the long game”. They are ignorant and almost funny in their ignorance.

It isn’t just about massive datasets. AI focus has been at the core of Google’s existence from the get go. Converting Google search to Chat GPT like functionality was just the flip of a switch for Alphabet. They didn’t need to buy any companies because they are that company. And if it is about computing power again Google has the best model. They have been selling “free” services like search, maps, youtube and everything else for years, building massive infrastructure on the back of their ad business in ways that consumers consider a win win.

Apple’s endeavours in digital video creation are an excellent illustration of the extent of the hole they have dug themselves. A few decades ago the company thought that digital video creation would be the next DTP, the next saviour for their computing division. Even now with their touted advantage in processors they have just 20% of the global computer share. Back then they bought software like Final Cut and other more expensive digital creation tools and tried to package them in various ways to sell more Macs into studios and broadcasters. It didn’t work of course. Apple was not that kind of company, it made money from iPhones. There was no durability to the vision and the software started dying out with less and less updates. It went back to being a cute toy for some Apple loving film folk.

Right now Apple has no AI vision. It can’t even think of how to develop one. They are too busy trying to think of some gadget that will sell as the iPhone’s market share which is puny. For all you Americans reading, globally just 15% of humans use an iPhone. They all prefer products that are more affordable, more flexible, more open and with the innovations that Apple copies for their next flagship every year. They haven’t been beating world champions at the game of Go, nor folding proteins.

So when Apple inevitably announces what its plan are in AI, I would take them with a massive pinch of salt. Buying any company won’t solve their problem and no new technology they can announce will either. AI thinking is a long term project and Apple has been absent from the party.

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