Apple’s AI Approach in China: Swallow Pride, Copy Samsung

Apple Intelligence Features

Apple recently revealed Apple Intelligence at WWDC ’24, which offered a glimpse into the future for iPhone users worldwide. However, it was noticeably silent on China, its second-largest market. This impacts Apple’s AI approach in China.

Reason

Popular Western AI models like ChatGPT are unavailable in China due to strict regulations.

Because of this, Apple has reportedly been in talks with several Chinese companies, including search giant Baidu and e-commerce leader Alibaba, according to industry sources.

The goal

To develop and offer Apple Intelligence services specifically tailored for the Chinese market. No official partnership has been announced yet, but time is ticking as the next iPhone launch inches closer.

This comes during Apple’s declining market share in China. Local rivals like Huawei are rapidly incorporating AI features into their phones, pushing Apple to third place in terms of handset market share. To stay competitive with local brands, Apple needs to have a China-approved AI solution.

The challenge lies in passing through China’s strict regulations. LLMs, which form the backbone of AI chatbots, require approval from the Cyberspace Administration of China. So far, none of the approved LLM models have been developed in foreign countries. Apple’s attempt to gain approval for a foreign model reportedly proved unsuccessful.

Samsung’s approach with its Galaxy S24 series offers an idea of what Apple has to do. Unable to use Google’s AI Gemini (due to its China absence), Samsung partnered with Baidu and Meitu to deliver AI-powered features like photo editing and real-time translation.

BUT

User reviews of the Baidu-powered AI have been mixed, meaning Apple needs to find a partner to deliver a competitive AI experience.

Talking about history, Apple is no stranger to adapting to China’s regulations.

  • iCloud data resides on government-owned servers, and
  • Apple TV+ is unavailable in the country, but apparently not for long.

Overall, the race for AI dominance in China is heating up, and Apple needs a strategy shift to stay in the game.

More here.

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