Apple Eyes Chinese AI Integration for Next iPhone Series


Tech giant Apple is reportedly in discussions with Chinese internet powerhouse Baidu to incorporate Baidu’s Ernie Bot, a robust language model (LLM), into its upcoming iPhone 16 and other products tailored specifically for the Chinese market. According to a report by Cailian Press, this move by Apple comes amidst efforts to adhere to China's increasingly stringent regulations on AI-generated content.

The report indicates that Apple intends to integrate Ernie Bot into its iOS 18 operating system and Mac OS for the Chinese market. Before partnering with Baidu, Apple explored potential collaborations with other Chinese firms such as Alibaba and an AI company affiliated with Tsinghua University.

While Apple is likely to continue using its in-house AI model or Google’s Gemini outside of China, the decision to adopt a locally developed solution within mainland China underscores its commitment to compliance with Chinese regulations.


News of this potential partnership follows Apple CEO Tim Cook's recent visit to China, during which he reaffirmed Apple's dedication to the Chinese market and held discussions with key suppliers. Cook commended Chinese suppliers for their efforts toward achieving carbon neutrality and announced plans to expand Apple's research center in Shanghai while establishing a new applied research lab in Shenzhen. This strategic focus on China coincides with a 24% decline in iPhone sales year-on-year in the country, attributed largely to competition from Huawei, according to Counterpoint Research.

The rumored collaboration mirrors Samsung's approach, as the company incorporates Baidu's Ernie into its latest Galaxy S24 series in China to introduce features like "Circle to Search," while globally utilizing Google's Gemini AI.

However, both Apple and Baidu face challenges posed by evolving regulatory landscapes. China has implemented comprehensive regulations governing domestic generative AI services to ensure compliance with government-approved content.

Reports of a potential partnership between Apple and Baidu buoyed Baidu's shares by 6% in Hong Kong, with analysts viewing this as a potential boon for Baidu's branding of Ernie Bot and its efforts to accelerate AI monetization, providing a competitive advantage over Chinese rivals.

In other news, Apple has officially announced the dates for its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2024, scheduled to take place virtually from June 10th to 14th. Speculation abounds that Apple may unveil iOS 18 with generative AI features and possibly introduce an AI App Store at the event, signaling a potential shift in its AI strategy by offering a platform for various AI apps from different developers, including upgraded offerings from Siri and competitors like Google and Baidu.



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