Apple (AAPL) reported better-than-expected quarterly sales on Thursday, scoring another win for Big Tech this earnings season. Unlike his fellow CEOs, however, Apple’s Tim Cook didn’t use his opening remarks to focus on his company’s AI efforts.
In fact, Cook didn’t mention the topic at all in his statement. The only time the CEO broached the topic was when he was prodded by Credit Suisse’s Shannon Cross, who asked for Cook’s thoughts on generative AI and where he sees it going. True to form, the CEO was light on specifics.
It was a stark contrast to the earnings calls for Microsoft (MSFT), Google parent Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL), and Facebook parent Meta (META) during which their respective CEOs repeatedly talked up their various AI efforts.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella called out AI 31 times in his opening remarks during the company’s earnings call last week, hitting on how the technology is impacting everything from the firm’s productivity and enterprise apps to the new Bing.
Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai uttered the letters AI a whopping 34 times in his own earnings call remarks, calling out his company’s work to implement AI into its productivity and advertising offerings. He also, naturally, mentioned how Google will soon bring generative AI to its search business.
Then there’s Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg. The CEO, who according to a Reuters report was caught flat footed in adopting the necessary AI hardware and software to power his company’s growth, talked up AI 22 times in his earnings remarks.
Despite not mentioning the hottest buzzword since blockchain in his statement, shares of Cook’s Apple jumped more than 4% Friday. It’s not as though Apple doesn’t use AI either. Nearly every product Apple offers takes advantage of AI and machine learning.
Cook specifically called out the company’s use of the technology to power the Apple Watch’s fall detection and ECG, as well as the crash detection capabilities in the watch and iPhone.
“It’s absolutely remarkable,” Cook said. “And so we view AI as huge and we’ll continue weaving it in our products on a very thoughtful basis.”
Apple is also set to hold its annual WWDC developer conference next month, during which it could make some kind of announcement regarding generative AI.
But Apple’s ethos is to let technology largely fade into the background while boosting its products as a means to an end. In other words, if Apple does begin implementing some form of generative AI into its product portfolio, don’t expect the company to dwell on the fact that it’s doing so.
If anything, you’ll hear about how the technology will power an updated version of Siri, or perhaps become a new assistant meant to help you better plan things like trips or your daily work schedule.
However Apple decides to approach generative AI, bank on the company focusing more on how it helps its products, rather than the tech itself.