Apple held its public shareholder’s meeting at the Steve Jobs Theater Friday, giving major investors the opportunity to ask Tim Cook and the executive team some direct questions. While a resolution regarding the diversity of the board dominated the discussion and the headlines afterward, there were a few interesting notes regarding current and upcoming products and services that also came out of the event.
Remember when Apple reshuffled some 200 employees that had been associated with Project Titan to other areas of the company back in January? Remember the chorus of “Project Titan is dead,” afterwards? If not, you can see Mashable getting their digs in here as a reminder. The fact is, this isn’t the first time that Apple has moved people away from Project Titan. I’m sure you could guess this, but the tech press got it wrong then, as well.
The most common recent complaint about Apple, especially among the tech media and Apple enthusiasts, tends to be a perceived lack of innovation in recent years. Much of this is based on the fact that Apple made huge strides in several core computing and mobile tech categories from the late 1990s to the 2010s under the leadership of Steve Jobs.
While it is true that Apple hasn’t an iPhone or iPad-level hit since Jobs’ passing, it isn’t as if the company is standing still. The Watch has become a nice slow-burn success story, the Mac is still selling strong, iPad sales are turning around, Apple now has a fast-growing Services business, and they are closing in on becoming the first company in the world with a trillion dollar valuation, as well. However, while all of that can’t be dismissed, the lack of a slam dunk product over the last 7 years, some high-profile struggles with software, and the current negative impressions of Siri feed this lack of innovation narrative.
When I have written about Apple’s AI and Machine Learning initiatives in the past, the articles have usually centered around Siri and Voice Dictation. It’s easy to put these things together because Siri is the most visible and user-centered Apple interface that involves AI. However, as we have seen this month, there is a lot more than meets the eye going on beneath the surface at Apple.
Last week, Wired ran a story about a lunch talk given by Apple’s leading AI expert, Rutland Salakhutdinov, for around 200 others in the field during the NIPS machine learning conference. The most interesting thing to come out of his presentation was fresh news of Apple’s continued work in the field of self-driving cars.