Apple may have already struck a deal with Baidu for iPhone AI in China

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Rumour assessment   🤔 Possibly

Days after the first reports emerged that Apple was looking for a local artificial intelligence supplier in China, local media claim that a deal has already been concluded.

According to a March 22 report, Apple is looking for potential partners in China to supply generative artificial intelligence technologies to avoid potential regulatory issues. Now it looks like Apple has given up its search and settled on Baidu.

A report from the local China Star Market, seen by SCMP, states that Apple has selected Baidu for its work in the field of generative artificial intelligence. Anonymous sources also confirm that the decision was made based on compliance concerns.

A second report by China's Cailian Press, published by the Wall Street Journal, tells the same story about Apple's choice of Baidu. The technology is expected to be used to enable elements of generative AI in iOS 18 and macOS 15.

Chinese regulators require pre-approval before generative AI models can be used by the public. Since Baidu's Ernie Bot has already been approved, this will help Apple offer more AI services without having to bring its AI software into compliance with local regulations.

The Ernie (Enhanced View through Knowledge Integration) bot is a system similar to ChatGPT and Google Gemini in which users can ask questions or make statements and responses are generated based on a knowledge graph.

In April 2023, Baidu sued Apple to stop the flow of fake Ernie Bot apps into the App Store.

The role of AI is only in China

Although Apple will hand over the reins of its AI functions to Baidu if reports are accurate, this will not affect iPhone and Mac users in other countries. Outside of mainland China, Apple is expected to rely on its own AI efforts, although it could also decide to license Google Gemini.

Although many reports have claimed a connection between Apple and Baidu in the field of artificial intelligence, neither company has officially commented on the matter. However, Baidu benefited from the reports, with the share price rising six percent on Monday to close the day up 2.55 percent.

The tie-up comes at a time when Apple is expected to bring more artificial intelligence features to consumers. Apple CEO Tim Cook said during its January earnings call that more details about the company's artificial intelligence work would be revealed later in 2024.

The most likely venue for these discussions is WWDC 2024.

Assessing Rumors



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