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Report: Apple Considers Adding Baidu’s GenAI to Devices in China

Apple building

Apple is reportedly in preliminary talks with Chinese tech giant Baidu, exploring a potential partnership to use Baidu’s generative artificial intelligence technology for Apple devices in China.

The move is part of Apple’s ongoing strategy to enhance its AI capabilities and navigate China’s stringent regulatory landscape, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Friday (March 22), citing unnamed sources.

Apple did not immediately reply to PYMNTS’ request for comment.

China’s regulations mandate that generative AI models be vetted by the country’s cyberspace regulator before public launch, according to the report. Since this rule’s introduction in August, more than 40 generative AI models have received approval, including Baidu’s Ernie Bot. No models developed by foreign companies have been approved yet, although it is not known if any sought approval.

While Apple’s discussions with Baidu are tentative, the potential partnership underscores the growing importance of AI in the consumer-electronics market, the report said. Apple has been investing in developing its own generative AI model to enhance features like voice assistants, photo editing and email. However, analysts suggest that the company may need to innovate more to outshine competitors in the AI space.

Apple faces stiff competition in China, its largest overseas market, particularly from domestic rivals like Huawei Technologies, per the report. The first six weeks of this year saw a 24% decline in iPhone sales in China, while Huawei’s phone sales rose by 64%. To strengthen its presence, Apple has doubled its research and development team in China over the past five years and plans to open a new lab for research and testing of its product lines.

Apple CEO Tim Cook’s visit to China and his participation in the upcoming China Development Forum highlight the company’s commitment to the Chinese market, the report said. A partnership with Baidu could help Apple overcome compliance burdens, compete more effectively with local rivals, and meet the growing demand for AI-enabled devices in China.

It was reported Monday (March 18) that Apple is in discussions to add Google’s AI to the iPhone. Apple is negotiating to license Google’s Gemini AI models to power some new iPhone features set to be released this year.

Apple has also reportedly had talks with OpenAI about employing that company’s AI model.

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