Baidu to Boost iPhone 16 AI, May Cut Costs

Image Source: Visual China

On March 25th, a source from within Baidu revealed to a Time Weekly journalist that Baidu will be providing AI functions for Apple’s upcoming iPhone 16, Mac systems, and iOS 18 this year.

According to the source, Chinese regulations require large models to obtain approval from regulatory agencies before they can be used. Apple’s search for a domestic provider of generative AI in China is primarily to meet the compliance requirements for devices like the Chinese version of the iPhone. Currently, domestic regulatory agencies have approved over 40 models of large models for use, including Baidu’s Ernie Bot.

The source mentioned that Apple had discussions with Alibaba and another domestic large model company but ultimately chose Baidu to provide the service. Apple is expected to charge for this service through API interfaces.

Another insider from Baidu informed the Time Weekly journalist saying, “A third-party source mentioned a couple of days ago that Apple will integrate Ernie Bot, but specific details of the collaboration have not been officially announced yet.”

Time Weekly noted that Apple had previously cooperated with several generative artificial intelligence chatbot and large language model vendors, including Google and OpenAI.

Technology analyst Lang Ting told Time Weekly, “Although Apple has held AI summits, its actions in this field have been noticeably limited.” In her view, the collaboration between Apple and Baidu will help drive some AI functionalities for Apple in the Chinese market. In the US market, Apple can collaborate with Google and OpenAI or even use its own AI technology.

Apart from the rumored collaboration with Apple, Baidu has also partnered with Samsung and Honor in the past. During the launch event of the Chinese version of the Samsung Galaxy S24 series, Samsung Electronics’ Vice President of User Experience Strategy for Greater China, Xu Yuanmo, and Baidu’s Vice President, Chen Yifan, jointly announced the formal establishment of an AI ecosystem strategic partnership between Chinese Samsung and Baidu Intelligent Cloud. The Galaxy AI integrated into the Samsung S24 series incorporates multiple capabilities of Baidu’s Ernie large model, providing not only on-device empowered calling and translation functions but also new intelligent summarization, layout, and other generative AI experiences for users.

Lang Ting stated that Baidu’s ability to attract major smartphone companies is due to its clear commercial path and relatively excellent model capabilities.

Baidu’s 2023 annual report showed that in 2023, Baidu achieved a total revenue of 134.598 billion yuan, with a net profit attributable to Baidu of 28.7 billion yuan, representing a high annual growth rate of 39%. In the fourth quarter, Intelligent Cloud’s total revenue was 8.4 billion yuan, with large models bringing about 656 million yuan in incremental revenue to the cloud business. Generative AI and foundational model revenue accounted for 8% of AI cloud revenue.

“In fact, AI has not only brought revenue contributions to our Intelligent Cloud business but also to Baidu’s advertising revenue,” Lang Ting said. “It is said that Ernie Bot has already provided pricing to advertisers, including traditional app advertisements. Although this business model hasn’t been widely market validated, it aligns with the commercialization strategies of Google and Meta.”

Recently, the large model tool Kimi Chat under the Moon’s Dark Side has officially upgraded to 2 million-word parameters, ten times higher compared to its debut of 200,000 words five months ago. Following closely, Baidu’s Ernie Bot has also showcased its long-text processing capabilities. Official information indicates that Ernie Bot will open up free long-text processing capabilities ranging from 2 to 5 million words next month, a significant advancement compared to the previous maximum of 28,000 words for document processing, increasing the model’s capabilities by a hundredfold.

According to the efficiency software rankings on the Apple App Store, among dialogue apps with large language models, Kimi holds the top spot, with Bean Bag and Ernie Bot ranking second and third respectively, followed closely by Tiangong, Tongyi Qianwen, and Xunfei Xinghuo.

Data from QuestMobile shows that as of November 2023, Ernie Bot and Bean Bag had daily active users of 1.554 million and 1.246 million, respectively. Bean Bag’s overall active users numbered around 11.439 million, exceeding Ernie Bot’s 9.7782 million. The average usage time per person for Bean Bag is 24.34 minutes, approximately one-third less than Ernie Bot’s 34.68 minutes.

“For Baidu, partnering with Apple is undoubtedly a positive development. As a widely used end product, Apple’s products can help Ernie Bot penetrate the user base more quickly; furthermore, the large user base will continue to reduce the inference costs for Ernie Bot,” Lang Ting added.

On March 25th, Baidu’s Hong Kong stock market opened higher at 103.1 Hong Kong dollars per share, up 4.7% from the closing price on the 22nd.

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