Apple has hired Google’s chief of search and artificial intelligence, John Giannandrea, a major coup in its bid to catch up to the artificial intelligence technology of its rivals. —Jack Nicas and Cade Metz, the New York Times
Excerpts from the reactions that caught my eye:
Neil Cybart, Above Avalon: Apple Poaches Google A.I. Leader. This news was met by a pretty cynical narrative involving Apple never taking A.I. and machine learning seriously until now. The byproduct of this ineptitude has been a dysfunctional Siri, which was put into the spotlight with the recent HomePod launch. While I don’t agree with that assertion, it’s the current narrative in many tech circles.
Gene Munster, Loup Ventures: What this means for Apple. It’s a win. Talent follows talent, and John Giannandrea will no doubt help to build Apple’s AI brand and enhance future recruiting efforts. His shared vision on privacy is good news for a company who claims to be the vanguard of user security. In the meantime, Google will maintain its strength in AI, given they are still an “AI first company” and have tremendous AI and deep learning horsepower with their Google Brain and DeepMind teams. Jeff Dean, the founder of Google Brain, has taken over as the head of their AI department in a “reshuffling” making AI a more central part of their business. Will Google employees follow in Giannandrea’s footsteps? There will probably be a few, but the competition is fierce, and this will not be the last major AI trade.
Ina Fried, Axios: Why it matters. AI is a key strategic area with Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and others all looking to outflank their rivals.
Nick Stat and James Vincent, The Verge: With Giannandrea joining the fold,.. Apple may be able to recruit more top-level talent and improve its algorithms, a feat the company has long said it wants to achieve without violating its stance on privacy. Yet because neural networks — the backbone of deep learning techniques for developing self-improving software — require large amounts of data to be trained on, Apple is necessarily at a disadvantage because it only has access to publicly available sets. Facebook and Google, on the other hand, operate large-scale data collection operations with billions of users around the globe.
Patrick Moorhead: Moor Insights: One person alone rarely makes the only difference, but will likely pull people over from other companies. Historically, Apple very rarely does Apple change its direct reporting structure. Big deal from that angle.
Tripp Mickle, Wall Street Journal: Apple has been looking for a senior artificial-intelligence executive for nearly a year, a person familiar with the search said.
Benedict Evans, Andreessen Horowitz: Apple Hires Google’s A.I. Chief. Important. Probably more important: they persuaded him he’ll have interesting problems to work on, and that he’ll be able to get stuff done, which implies broader changes.
John Gruber, Daring Fireball: If it works out, we’ll probably look back at this as one of the most significant Apple executive hires ever.
My take: Smart move. About time.