On June 10, Apple Will Cross Its AI Rubicon

Apple’s early reticence toward AI was entirely on brand. The company has always been famously obsessed with what its offerings did for its customers rather than how it did it. 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 loathe to talk about the guts of the tech that powered its devices. But then the AI silence got deafening.

Analysts harangued executives at investor calls, the media wondered what Apple was up to, and the stock market penalized Apple for simply humming the AI tune while other tech titans were belting it out (Alphabet’s stock price is up 25% for the year and Microsoft’s 12%, while Apple puts in a modest 5% increase). Apple was conspicuous in its absence.

All that changes on June 10 as Apple crosses the AI Rubicon at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). This event is all about software, and that’s a perfect occasion for Apple AI’s coming-out party to the entire Apple ecosystem of devices. And the time couldn’t be more ripe.

A Smarter, AI-Fueled Brand Experience

You can get a full rundown of the expected new tech elsewhere, but here are my three takeaways on what this means for Apple’s brand experience:

  • You’ll see AI everywhere. You may not even know it’s there. The whole point of AI, to Apple, is to make the experience better for its users, and you’ll see that kick in across the bevy of Apple applications such as Photos, Music, and its office-type applications, all of which will get a little smarter and better at what they do (transcribing voice memos, editing photos, etc.). Yes, this is incremental improvement, but now Apple scores Wall Street points for being explicit about the AI powering the brains behind the machine.
  • Siri may actually become helpful. And it’s about time. Siri ought to be the biggest beneficiary of the newfound wonders of generative AI (genAI). The as-yet-unrealized promise of this oddly unhelpful helper may yet find fruition and emerge to deliver the kind of consumer experience that the rest of Apple’s offerings have always provided. We’ve all seen how ChatGPT has breathed new life into the miserable chatbot experience, and Apple’s talks with OpenAI (and also Google) may work the same wonders for the languishing Siri.
  • Apple “thinks different” about privacy. And that’s a big deal for AI. With the rapid adoption of genAI, the volume of data in the consumerverse will multiply exponentially. Much of this information about our lives in this most intimate detail is not what we want tech companies to possess, much less milk for their profit. Apple has always been an outlier in the tech titan territory for its customer-first privacy commitment. As AI rolls out at a million miles per hour, with ethical and privacy concerns as an afterthought, Apple can leverage its brand equity to carve out a position as a trusted consumer partner in the Wild Wild West of AI.

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