In conjunction with the Artificial Intelligence (AI) theme at IBM Think, Apple and IBM announced that the two companies are working together to deliver a mobile AI solution based on IBM Watson Services for Core ML. The partnership will leverage Apple's Core ML framework and Watson Studio (also announced) development tools allowing developers to design apps that will leverage the machine learning (ML) capabilities on Apple devices. Starting with the A11 processor, Apple integrated a dedicated neural engine for inference processing of trained ML models.
While it is unusual to see Apple highlight a technical partnership, it is not unexpected. No mobile AI solution would be complete without a cloud solution for model training and development and IBM is a leader in cloud computing solutions and AI.
From what we have seen thus far, the Watson Studio provides a complete suite of model development tools that are available in the new IBM Cloud Developer Console for Apple. In addition, IBM will also provide access to Watson cloud resources and data resources in what the company calls the "private-public cloud" (a private cloud solution with access to public data) for developing models. The only thing a developer needs to bring to the effort is an idea. Additionally, IBM announced Watson Assistant, a pre-trained AI solution for many applications, that can be integrated into applications.
TIRIAS Research believes that these types of partnership are critical for leveraging AI, especially in mobile devices. Many technology providers have announced silicon-based AI solutions, but do not offer the cloud and data resources necessary for developing the trained models necessary for mobile or any edge device. As a result, the mobile/edge AI applications that are available today are developed by the large OEMs and technology providers that have access to these resources. These cloud-data partnerships will open AI development to all developers similar to what the app store did for mobile applications.
In its 100+ years as a business, IBM has morphed as a company through many major market inflection points. By focusing on end-to-end AI solutions, IBM appears well positioned to remain a technology leader as AI changes everything from the technology industry to society.