OpenAI Recruits Apple Vet to Design AI Hardware Device


OpenAI’s Sam Altman has reportedly recruited an Apple vet for an artificial intelligence (AI) hardware project.

Tang Tan, Apple’s design chief, is joining iPhone designer Jony Ive’s firm LoveFrom, which will craft the look and capabilities of the product, Bloomberg News reported Wednesday (Dec. 27), citing sources familiar with the matter.

The report said Tan will oversee hardware engineering at the project while working at LoveFrom, per the sources. The executive is scheduled to step down in February.

The Bloomberg report also notes that Altman’s efforts to raise funds for the effort with Ive was one of the things that brought him into conflict with OpenAI’s previous board, leading to his brief firing in November.

News that Altman and Ive were at work on an AI device first emerged in October. As PYMNTS wrote at the time, Altman and Ive appear to be aiming replicate the success of the iPhone and App store with AI.

“Apple’s business model has always emphasized a tight integration between hardware and software,” that report said.

“This approach allowed Apple to control both the device and the operating system, ensuring a consistent and user-friendly experience, as well as facilitating the rise of subscription-based pricing models for apps and content, allowing users to pay on a recurring basis for access to premium services or content.”

Similar pricing and operating model evolutions are happening in the AI ecosystem, PYMNTS wrote, as the high cost of the technology is something businesses need to adjust to if they want to remain competitive.

By some estimates, Microsoft’s Bing AI chatbot, powered by an OpenAI large language model (LLM), needs at least $4 billion of infrastructure just to function.

“Managing these costs could lead to the development of new business models, or the transformation of existing ones, as businesses look to pass on both costs and cost-savings to end-users through dynamic pricing strategies,” PYMNTS wrote.

Meanwhile, November saw the news of an AI-powered wearable device from Humane, a startup launched by a married couple who worked together at Apple. As noted here, the couple raised around $240 million in funding, with investors that include Altman.