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Apple’s Tim Cook explains why he won’t showboat around AI


Published: Aug. 3, 2023 at 7:03 p.m. ET

If Apple Inc.’s Thursday earnings call sounded a bit different than other recent ones from Big Tech players, perhaps that was due to a noticeable lack of artificial-intelligence discussion.

In fact, AI didn’t come up at all on Apple’s AAPL call until an analyst brought up the topic in the question-and-answer portion, commenting that Apple executives “don’t talk too much” about their AI strategy or investments, unlike many tech peers.

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If Apple Inc.’s Thursday earnings call sounded a bit different than other recent ones from Big Tech players, perhaps that was due to a noticeable lack of artificial-intelligence discussion.

In fact, AI didn’t come up at all on Apple’s

AAPL

call until an analyst brought up the topic in the question-and-answer portion, commenting that Apple executives “don’t talk too much” about their AI strategy or investments, unlike many tech peers.

See also: Apple sees sales decline for third quarter in a row — and says performance could be similar this quarter

“If you take a step back, we view AI and machine learning as core fundamental technologies that are integral to virtually every product that we build,” Chief Executive Tim Cook replied. AI helps power recently announced software features like live voicemails and the ability to replicate your voice digitally, as well as somewhat older features like automatic crash detection and fall detection.

AI technology has been “absolutely critical to us,” Cook said, and Apple has “been doing research across a wide range of AI technologies, including generative AI, for years,” something the company plans to continue.

But don’t necessarily expect Apple to start showboating around its AI efforts going forward: Cook said that Apple’s “M.O.” simply is to announce products when they’re ready for consumers.

“Apple’s reticence in being dragged into the AI hype is on-brand,” Forrester principal analyst Dipanjan Chatterjee said in emailed comments. “A maniacal focus on what Apple does for its customers and not how it does it is rooted so deeply in the brand’s DNA.”

In all, there were just six mentions of AI or artificial intelligence on Apple’s earnings call, all of which came during the Q&A exchange with Deutsche Bank analyst Sidney Ho. Compare that to 90 mentions of those terms on Alphabet Inc.’s

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earnings call last week, 73 mentions on Microsoft Corp.’s

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,
and 62 mentions on Meta Platforms Inc.’s

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,
according to MarketWatch’s review of transcripts provided by AlphaSense/Sentieo.

Read: Microsoft and Google can’t stop talking about AI, and this chart proves it

Amazon.com Inc.

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,

which joined Apple in posting results Thursday, falls somewhere in the middle. The topic of AI garnered 34 mentions on Amazon’s call.

Whereas Apple has been consistent with its scant mentions of the technology, Amazon executives have been ramping up the rhetoric: AlphaSense/Sentieo data shows just one AI mention on the earnings call Amazon held in February 2022, and then no mentions until the term came up 12 times on its April 2023 call. Volume was of course up considerably from there on Thursday’s call.

See also: The ‘stabilization’ of AWS may have been the most significant number for Amazon’s earnings



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