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Steve Jobs is famously quoted, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower”.  

Search engine queries for generative AI are at an all-time high, Microsoft is investing billions into AI software and notable experts are calling for development slowdowns left and right to temper the dangerous implications AI may have for humanity. Exciting time in the world right now, exciting time. Notwithstanding the potential for global socioeconomic collapse, many are left wondering where the world’s largest market cap company, Apple, sits alongside its more outspoken peers. Perhaps the tech giant is simply biding its time with something revolutionary; technology to ground critics of an AI bubble and cement Apple’s place as an innovator and market leader once more. 

 

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On one hand, it's highly likely that Apple is going to announce some kind of significant generative AI implementations in the near future – but the question remains, when? Investors, techies and die-hard Apple fans alike, await with bated breath the possibility of AI as a prominent feature of this year's Apple WWDC announcements. However, as usual, Apple continues to hold its cards close, leaving the most exciting predictions to manifest themselves on a painfully slow timeline for the end consumer. Apple is not the same disruptive and daring company that it was in 2007. Equally, while its technology stack is impressive, an internal cognisance of how sticky the Apple ecosystem has become, has resulted in one of the most iterative of business models in the modern market. We’ve been waiting over 8 years just for a USB C iPhone! Doesn’t seem like the modus operandi of an innovation leader to me, can we still expect Apple to pave the way when it comes to AI? 
 
The answer is still potentially, ‘Yes’. Despite frustrations with a slower moving post-Jobs Apple, behind the scenes there are still some indications that the company is silently developing technology to align itself with emerging AI trends. For one, apple has had a surge in recruitment of machine learning and generative AI engineers. It’s anyone’s guess as to what projects these experts will be tasked with, but an educated one would be that they will be developing augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) applications to accompany recently announced VR and AR hardware. The company is also rumoured to be boosting Siri's language generation capabilities using AI. "We are expecting Cook & Co. to discuss Apple’s AI strategy looking ahead," says Analyst Daniel Ives, expecting a shift in Apple's quiet AI approach at Apple WWDC 2023. The chances of Apple AI becoming official this year are a bit of a coin toss. Steeped in secrecy; as always, we will have to wait and see.  

 

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The reluctance from Apple to publicly jump on the AI bandwagon could be explained as a calculated move based on overinflated market expectations for the budding technology. Say what you will about Apple, but generally when they release something it does reach the consumer in a finished state; history tells us the tech giant will announce when they are good and ready. After all, amidst this AI enthusiasm, many outspoken critics are signalling and underlying a need for caution. Economist David Rosenberg states that there is, “without question”, an AI price bubble not dissimilar to the dot-com boom of the late 90s. Take NVIDIA for example. The rapid increase in chipmakers market cap, accelerated its valuation above $1 trillion following its Q1 2023 earnings release. Cathie Wood suggests that NVIDIA's shares are "priced ahead of the curve"; but perhaps the CEO of the plummeting 70+% loss ARK Investment Fund isn’t the best source for likely winners and losers. If you really wanted to scare yourself listening to people who will just say whatever pops into their head, Elon Musk recently said that AI is ‘more dangerous than nukes’. Although I highly doubt ‘mutually assured destruction’ is a phrase being tossed around many Silcon Valley boardrooms.  

Overall, the inner workings of the ostentatiously large 176-acre Apple Headquarters will remain a whisper in the wind - until a gale force of targeted advertising hits our screens at an unknown later date. As an investor you can prepare your portfolio, as a techie you can prepare yourself and as a consumer all you can do is prepare your wallet.

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