Of Course Apple Has an LLM AI Chatbot in the Works, and of Course the Bloomberg Report Revealing Its Code Name Mentions How the Story Moved the Company’s Stock Price

Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg, “Apple Tests ‘Apple GPT,’ Develops Generative AI Tools to Catch OpenAI”:

The iPhone maker has built its own framework to create large language models — the AI-based systems at the heart of new offerings like ChatGPT and Google’s Bard — according to people with knowledge of the efforts. With that foundation, known as “Ajax”, Apple also has created a chatbot service that some engineers call “Apple GPT”.

In recent months, the AI push has become a major effort for Apple, with several teams collaborating on the project, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. The work includes trying to address potential privacy concerns related to the technology.

It’s not surprising that Apple has a project like this underway. It would be rather shocking if they didn’t. And it shouldn’t be surprising that Apple is a latecomer to shipping software that exposes AI chatbot-type features. Apple is seldom first to adopt new technology, especially something with the privacy ramifications of AI chat.

I was banging this drum before WWDC, but one app that needs this sort of functionality is Xcode. Xcode is the only major developer IDE I’m aware of that doesn’t offer AI code generation and analysis. I’ve seen some demos from readers who use Microsoft’s VS Code and they’re amazing.

Next paragraph:

Apple shares gained as much as 2.3% to a record high of $198.23 after Bloomberg reported on the AI effort Wednesday, rebounding from earlier losses. Microsoft Corp., OpenAI’s partner and main backer, slipped about 1% on the news.

If you ever notice, Bloomberg news stories always contain updates like this. It’s an obsession unique to Bloomberg. My understanding is that this decade-old Business Insider story remains true: Bloomberg reporters are evaluated and receive bonuses tied to reporting market-moving news. They’re incentivized financially to make mountains out of molehills, and craters out of divots, to maximize the immediate effect of their reporting on stock prices. And Bloomberg appends these stock price movements right there in their reports, to drive home the notion that Bloomberg publishes market-moving news, so maybe you too should spend over $2,000 per month on a Bloomberg Terminal so that you can receive news reports from Bloomberg minutes before the general public, and buy, sell, and short stocks based on that news. No other news organization I’m aware of has an incentive system like this for reporters — but no other news organization has a business like the Bloomberg Terminal.

Here’s the graph of Apple’s share price today. Gurman’s report was published at 12:03pm, and boom, Apple’s stock price jumped at exactly 12:04pm. It then mostly came back down to where it was, presumably after everyone realized there really wasn’t any news here other than the fact that Apple is working on something we all presumed they were working on. Apple’s stock finished up 0.7 percent for the day.

Microsoft’s stock graph for today doesn’t show as dramatic a downward spike as Apple’s jump, but they were trading at $359.35 at 12:01, and dropped to $356.84 at exactly 12:04, one minute after Gurman’s report hit Bloomberg Terminals. The “this is bad news for Microsoft” line of thinking, presumably, is that if OpenAI has a long-term moat around LLM AI technology, Microsoft is likely to acquire them or otherwise maintain their position as an exclusive partner, and Apple might eventually need to pay through the nose to license OpenAI/Microsoft technology. But if there is no moat, and even Apple is developing its own LLM systems, then maybe Microsoft’s partnership with OpenAI isn’t worth much long-term.

Apple’s brief 2.7 percent jump and Microsoft’s smaller but still-significant drop, both at 12:04pm, were clearly caused by Gurman’s report. Bloomberg Terminal subscribers get such reports before anyone else. (Bloomberg employees, of course, know such information before it’s published, but I’m sure never do anything untoward with it.) Once you view Bloomberg’s original reporting through this prism — that most of their original reporting is delivered with the goal of moving the stock prices of the companies they’re reporting on, for the purpose of proving the value of a Bloomberg Terminal’s hefty subscription fee1 to day-trading gamblers — a lot of their seemingly inexplicable stylistic quirks don’t seem so inexplicable any more. They just seem a little gross.

  1. According to Wikipedia, “the Bloomberg Terminal is available for an annual fee of around $24k per user or $27k per year for subscribers that use only one terminal. As of 2022, there were 325,000 Bloomberg Terminal subscribers worldwide.” That’s about $8 billion per year in revenue. ↩︎