Top venture capitalist says Apple should be focused on AI


Prepare for the Woz-pocalypse
The Apple execs of the future?
Photo: TriStar Pictures

Rightly or wrongly, Apple’s stock taking a prolonged plunge has opened the floodgates for people to hold court about what it is that Apple’s apparently doing wrong — and how the company can be righted again.

Today it was the turn of venture capitalist Fred Wilson, founder and managing partner of Union Square Ventures. His answer: that Apple is failing to invest enough in artificial intelligence and cloud cloud computing.

Speaking on CNBC‘s “Squawk Box,” Wilson said that, “The future of technology is more and more in the cloud. It’s more and more in machine learning and AI. It’s not really in the devices. [Apple] is very much a hardware company and a systems software company.”

Wilson has previously offered the opinion (back in 2014) that Apple won’t be one of the top three tech companies by 2020, which means that at least he’s consistent with his opinions.

As to whether there’s anything in his views, that’s another story. While few people would deny that cloud computing and AI are massive areas of interest (even if the latter is heavily prone to boom-and-bust hype cycles), Apple’s not exactly unsuccessful with its focus on hardware instead of software.

In fact, last year Apple managed to carve out a whopping 40 percent of Silicon Valley profits using its apparently-outdated business model. Moreover, critics have been suggesting that Apple gets out of the hardware business since the 1990s — only for Steve Jobs’ return to Apple to teach many of those critics just how wrong they were.

There has been some recent evidence that Apple is upping its focus on AI and the cloud, however. Recently it was reported that Apple is ramping up its hiring of artificial intelligence experts in an attempt to compete with companies like Google — with Cupertino’s number of machine learning gurus tripling or even quadrupling over the past few years. While there are plenty of areas where AI can be applied within Apple’s existing services, it would seem to fit most obviously within the company’s rumored Apple Car project, which is likely to have self-driving elements.

In terms of cloud computing, Apple is rumored to be working on an internal project dubbed “Project McQueen,” designed to decrease its current reliance on cloud services belonging to Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

Do you think Fred Wilson is right in his view that AI and cloud computing are things Apple should embrace more than it currently is? Leave your comments below.

Source: CNBC