But the fact that Apple looks, smells and acts like a bank raises questions about the disruptive effects of fintech, and of Big Tech in general. Silicon Valley loves regulatory arbitrage — move fast and break things in whatever sector you want to disrupt (retail, healthcare, banking, transportation, to name a few) before policymakers realise that you aren’t actually playing by the same rules as other industry participants. It’s how start-ups in healthcare get round HIPAA rules and crypto companies continue to dupe investors.
Should Apple hasten the exodus of deposits from the traditional banking sector in ways that start to undermine already beleaguered financial institutions, I suspect that regulators will take a closer look at the business model. The company will also have to be careful to avoid compromising consumer data in ways that trigger antitrust issues.
I, for one, would be delighted to see Apple becoming a significant enough player in the financial industry to wield that influence in improving my banking experience. What if transferring funds was as easy as Apple Pay? What if I never needed to write another paper check in my life? All of those feel like pain points that Apple could help solve if it bent its will to the task; and maybe, based on what it’s done so far, it’s got just such an idea in mind.
In the last 30 days, I have been closely monitoring the Mac App Store and have made a disturbing discovery. In the midst of the OpenAI frenzy, several apps have surfaced that are copying the iconic OpenAI logo and color scheme in order to mislead unsuspecting MacOS App Store users. But that’s not all — I also found that some developers are abusing Apple’s Developer Agreements by spamming multiple accounts and flooding the store with nearly identical applications. This creates a “cartel” style environment and unfair competition for other developers.
In my exploration of Apple Music Classical, the app usually gave me the results I sought on the first search attempt. For popular pieces of music, such as Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 "Emperor" — for which there are 817 (!) recordings available — the app provides a brief text introduction to the work, a human curator-recommended "Editor's Choice" recording, several "popular recordings" of the piece, and then a list of some related works, including recordings of other Beethoven works for piano, as well as suggestions of other pieces by other composers (Mozart, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Saint-Saens) that might appeal as well.
According to Gruber, Apple's research has found that far from being music snobs, classical fans actually listen to many more kinds of music than listeners to other music genres. "What we found," he says, "is that classical customers are not sitting in an elite corner somewhere. They're actually the biggest music fans there are. They're the ones who listen to the widest variety of genres, way above the average of your average listener of music."
Apple in the last six months seems to have avoided jumping into the ChatGPT race by continuing to hire specialists in vision-recognition instead of large-language model technology, according to estimates by analytics firm Glass.ai, which recently scanned the LinkedIn profiles of newly hired AI researchers at large technology firms. Vision recognition is an AI field where computers identify images, and that expertise would dovetail more with Apple’s work on a mixed-reality headset. Apple did not respond to a request for comment.
Apple’s own ethos also makes a foray into building large language models more challenging. Executives led by Cook constantly bang their own drum about privacy and security, while tightening Apple’s own ecosystem to limit the flow of personal data. Yet the language models that power ChatGPT vacuum up vast amounts of information, often from opaque sources, in order to mimic what a human might create. This approach is anathema to Apple’s more conservative approach to data collation and usage.
I'm not sure I buy the argument that Apple need to jump into 'the ChatGPT race.' I still do not see how a first-party general-purpose large-language model can make Apple's platforms better.
Can ChatGPT make Apple Music Classical? I don't think so.
Thanks for reading.