In the past few weeks I’ve read a number of articles from so-called technology journalists who decry Apple’s lack of a big data and artificial intelligence strategy. As if a journalist is wired into Apple sufficiently to know what the company has planned for the future.
Big data is a buzzword these days and it seems that Google, Amazon and other competitors are into it and Apple is not. Ditto for artificial intelligence, or AI. Competitors have it and Apple does not. Seemingly, Apple has neither and needs both otherwise Google and Amazon win the future while Apple loses. How so?
The Big Con
Here’s the problem. Those calling for Apple to make the pivot from hardware to something else usually are journalists whose job is to satisfy a reader’s ever increasingly short attention span for what passes as analysis without providing valid comparisons for the positions taken.
The latest example was a screed by Larry Dignan who points out that Apple has fallen behind Google and Amazon in big data and artificial intelligence (as if he has details on what each company really does), mostly because each company has a product that does something Apple’s Siri and backend cloud does not. Yet, it’s Apple that has Siri on over 1-billion iOS devices (which requires a rather healthy cloud infrastructure) while Amazon has yet to sell more than a few million of its new Echo with Alexa semi-artificial intelligence device which intends to sell you things. Google, on the other hand, thrives on big data– your big data; the very data that is used to strip you of your privacy and security so Google can sell more advertising.
Anyone besides me see a slight difference in approach here?
Apple sells home grown technology hardware to hundreds of millions of buyers each year. Google and Amazon do not. Meanwhile, Google and Amazon collect trillions of pieces of data each year. The former uses it to sell more ads, while the latter isn’t really sure what to do with it all but collects it anyway in a large and growing cloud infrastructure while pushing out a number of cute little techno-products which don’t sell in great numbers (Amazon has this aversion to publishing the number of technology devices it sells each year; it might be 1-million, it might be 1,000, but whatever the number, Amazon isn’t proud of it enough to tell anyone).
Apple. Must. Pivot.
Yet, it’s Apple that must pivot to get into the latest buzzword technology. Google isn’t required by the technology journalism police to pivot to give users more privacy and security, even though both are buzzwords that have value to users and customers. Amazon isn’t required by technology journalism police to pivot to make and sell technology gadgets that compete on a scale where Apple competes.
Only Apple is required to make a pivot into an industry that has yet to prove there is money to be made; especially the kind of money that Apple makes by selling hardware. Yes, Apple is a hardware company. Google is an advertising company. Amazon is an online store. Yet, because of a few overly hyped products by both, neither of which (big data and artificial intelligence) make any money, it’s Apple that should move in that direction, because, you know, trends.
By the best guesses, Google sells a few million hardware gadgets a year. By the best guesses, Amazon sells a few million hardware gadgets a year. How many does Apple sell? While Google’s whatever-name-it-is-today-that-you-can’t-remember artificial intelligence app has some features Siri does not, it’s Siri that works on over a billion devices. Doesn’t that make Apple a heavyweight in AI? While Amazon sells a few million devices that do some of what Siri does not, Siri already does some of what Echo and Alexa do not, and that includes not selling me things, not tracking me to try to sell me things, and not trying to get me to buy things through the world’s largest online store, which makes Alexa more of a pitch man that a personal assistant. Amirite?
I don’t claim to know Apple’s artificial intelligence plans or how it does big data, but what I see already I can tell is a huge undertaking and it seems more for my benefit than technology that tracks me for profit, or technology that talks to me to get me to buy something.
Does anyone else see that?