Apple Rejected Idea of iPhone AI Partnership With Meta Months Ago


Apple Inc. declined an offer from Meta Platforms Inc. to integrate the social networking company’s AI chatbot into the iPhone several months ago, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The sources, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, stated that the two companies are not currently engaged in discussions regarding Meta’s Llama chatbot for an AI collaboration. They noted that any talks were brief and occurred in March. These preliminary discussions did not progress to a formal stage, and Apple currently has no active plans to incorporate Llama.

The initial conversations coincided with Apple’s negotiations to utilize OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Alphabet Inc.’s Gemini in its products. Apple recently announced its agreement with ChatGPT and expressed intentions to include Gemini in the future.

Sources indicated that Apple decided against pursuing formal discussions with Meta partly because of concerns about Meta’s privacy practices. Apple has been critical of Meta’s technology for years, and adding Llama to the iPhone would have marked a significant shift in strategy.

Additionally, Apple views ChatGPT as a superior offering. Notably, Google already partners with Apple for search on its Safari web browser, potentially setting the stage for a future partnership involving Gemini.

Representatives for both Apple and Meta declined to provide comments. Reports from The Wall Street Journal had previously suggested ongoing discussions between the two companies regarding an AI partnership.

At its Worldwide Developers Conference on June 10, Apple unveiled its new suite of artificial intelligence features under the banner of Apple Intelligence. These tools include native capabilities for summarizing notifications, transcribing voice memos, and creating personalized emojis.

Despite these advancements, Apple recognizes that its chatbot technology is less advanced compared to competitors and is thus exploring partnerships. The company anticipates that users will appreciate the ability to switch between different chatbots, similar to switching between search engines like Google and Microsoft Corp.’s Bing.

Apple reportedly continues discussions with AI startup Anthropic about potentially integrating its chatbot as an option. Apple Intelligence is slated to debut later this year across iOS, iPadOS, and macOS.

Regarding the arrangement with OpenAI, Apple’s agreement does not involve direct financial transactions. Instead, Apple will enable paying ChatGPT users to manage their subscriptions within the iOS ecosystem, potentially generating revenue for OpenAI and subsequent App Store commissions for Apple.

A decade ago, Apple and Meta enjoyed a more cooperative relationship, with Facebook integrated into iOS. However, in recent years, the companies have become formidable rivals, competing across AI, home devices, and mixed-reality headsets.