Why Apple and Amazon Are Using AI Models, Not Selling Them

Who is winning Big Tech’s generative artificial intelligence (AI) war?

While some of the world’s largest companies, including Alphabet’s GoogleMicrosoftOracleMeta and many more are drawing up their battle lines against not just each other but also innovative and agile startups like Anthropic and OpenAI, the question of primacy will likely be answered by whichever firm cracks the enterprise solution first — and most effectively.

That’s because generating businesses sales from cash-rich enterprises offers the best and most scalable bulwark against the heady costs of AI’s computing power and data center needs.

Microsoft, which has been at the forefront of the generative AI race ever since the firm struck its landmark partnership with OpenAI to leverage the latter’s foundational large language models (LLM), reportedly needs $4 billion of infrastructure for its suite of generative AI tools to do their job.

But while the who’s who of the tech sector continues to duke it out over AI, with upstart incumbent OpenAI reportedly on track to rake in more than $1 billion in revenue this year from its generative AI products, some observers are wondering — just where are the other tech sector giants, like Apple and Amazon?

Read also: It’s a ‘90s Browser War Redux as Musk and Meta Enter AI Race

A Better Use for AI

When it comes to winning this generation’s tech arms race, first mover advantage will be based on the way in which foundational AI models are applied to drive business value.

For their part, Google announced on Tuesday (Aug. 29) at the organization’s annual cloud conference in San Francisco that it will be releasing to the general public a suite of generative AI-powered tools for its corporate Gmail and workplace software customers. 

The tools will run enterprise customers an extra $30 per month, the same price as Microsoft’s equivalent enterprise AI co-pilot offerings, which are not yet available to the general business public beyond select testing partners.

Alphabet also used the event to unveil the latest iteration of its custom-built AI chips, along with a new tool that can watermark and help identify images generated by AI.

An early developer of generative AI’s core technical architecture (the T in GPT, which stands for Transformer) and a one-time home for many of AI’s most impactful researchers, Google has since suffered a substantial brain drain as its top AI researchers continue to leave and start their own ventures or join the top ranks of other firms.

“Writing a game-changing paper [in the AI space] is like a blank check,” Paul Lintilhac, a PhD researcher in computer science at Dartmouth College, told PYMNTS. 

Google’s announcement comes on the heels of OpenAI’s own launch of a generative AI service for enterprise customers. 

See more: 10 Insiders on Generative AI’s Impact Across the Enterprise

Different AI Strategies

But while the world’s biggest tech companies have been increasingly rolling out out AI applications, there have been some notably absent names in the race. 

For Amazon, that is by design.

The cloud and eCommerce giant is hoping to find an advantage in making LLM development as easy as possible for its clients, offering no and low-code AI services not too dissimilar from a Build-A-Bear for AI models.

Amazon is also treating AI as a support technology for its own business priorities, rather than packaging its proprietary models into a new product for outside customers. 

In just one example, the tech giant is reportedly using AI to optimize the viewing experience for its Thursday Night Football streaming product on Prime Video.

Meanwhile, Apple has yet to bring to market its own “GPT” moment.

“We view AI and machine learning as core fundamental technologies that are integral to virtually every product that we build,” Apple CEO Tim Cook told investors on the company’s most recent third-quarter earnings call.

There were just six references to AI during Apple’s call, and they all took place during the same exchange referenced above. For their part, Apple’s tech sector peers Microsoft and Alphabet mentioned AI 73 and 90 times, respectively, during their latest 2023 earnings calls.