Apple on AI war path! Acquires 21 AI startups, staff hirings on fire, $1 bn spend on cards

Ever since ChatGPT burst onto the surface in 2022, artificial intelligence (AI) has become a red-hot topic. There have been endless debates on whether the opportunities that have arisen courtesy of AI outweigh the obstacles raised by this new technology. But, this dilemma hasn’t stopped big tech companies from investing in it. From AI chatbots to tools that can be used for various purposes including image generation, and code interpretation, we’ve already seen mass adoption of AI. It has even reached smartphones, with Google and Samsung rolling out smartphones with multiple AI features. However, Apple, the world’s top smartphone maker, has stayed aloof from it so far, but not anymore! A new report suggests Apple has been quietly making acquisitions, staff hires and increasing its investment to bolster its AI capabilities.

Apple’s AI push

According to a Financial Times report, research from PitchBook shows that the Cupertino-based tech giant has been busy acquiring AI startups. In fact, it has acquired 21 startups since 2017, which is more than any of its big tech rivals. Its most recent acquisition was just last year when it took over an AI-powered video compression maker called WaveOne.

Daniel Ives at Wedbush Securities told FT, “I’d be shocked if they don’t do a sizeable AI deal this year, because there’s an AI arms race going on, and Apple is not going to be on the outside looking in”.

Morgan Stanley analysts say that Apple has also been organizing hirings in the AI field, with most of its job postings involving “Deep Learning”.

As per Mark Gurman, Apple’s AI efforts are reportedly being led by two of its Senior Vice Presidents inside the Cupertino-based tech giant – John Giannandrea and Craig Federighi. Both the VPs are being termed as “executive sponsors” of the AI push, while Eddie Cue, Apple’s head of Services, has also gotten involved. For the unaware, Giannadrea led Google Search and AI before joining Apple in 2018.

While Giannandrea’s team is working on developing an AI system and using Siri to implement it, Federighi’s team is the one actively trying to incorporate generative AI features into iOS 18. As part of the efforts to make groundbreaking innovations in AI, Apple is reportedly looking to spend a staggering $1 billion a year on it.

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