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Paolo Confino

Blockbuster report of OpenAI’s talks with iPhone designer Jony Ive about an AI hardware device suggests he ‘wants a front-row seat’ for the AI revolution, top analyst says

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman (Credit: Bloomberg)

OpenAI continues to plan for the AI future it ushered in when it released its wildly popular ChatGPT chatbot last November, according to a blockbuster report in The Information. The company’s founder, emerging AI mogul Sam Altman, met with Jony Ive, the renowned designer of Apple products, to discuss building an AI hardware device, according to two people familiar with the conversations. The implications are massive: a next-generation consumer electronic that would ostensibly integrate AI into daily life?

Even talks between the two point to a tech future dominated by artificial intelligence. The new technology has for now mostly been limited to software programs and machine learning algorithms. A successful collaboration, should it come to pass, would be one of the first mass-market consumer devices featuring AI. 

Details on what this product might look like are limited. However, Ive’s presence alone instills confidence. “Jony Ive is one of the genius minds of this generation,” Dan Ives, managing partner of Wedbush Securities, told Fortune

Ives (no relation to Ive) is an influential voice on Wall Street and has been forecasting a bright future for AI for months. In June, he wrote that the investing climate around AI is akin to a “1995 internet moment,” not, as some skeptics would argue, like 1999 just before the dotcom crash.

“The second, third, and fourth derivatives of this AI gold rush are just starting to evolve for the tech landscape,” Ives wrote at the time. “As we have covered the tech sector for decades and saw the dotcom bubble and burst firsthand, [we believe] this is the start of a fourth industrial revolution playing out across tech over the coming years that is still being underestimated by the Street in our opinion.”

Just as the personal computer was once considered the future of consumer electronics, Ives told Fortune about the report on Altman’s talks with Ive, AI will be front and center in new hardware designs. 

“OpenAI, along with Nvidia, are leading the AI revolution, and Jony Ive wants a front-row seat just as he was instrumental in the global historical success of the iPhone and Apple’s innovations,” Ives says. 

Over the past year, Altman has been vaulted to the forefront of Silicon Valley and global attention, becoming the de facto face of the AI revolution. His affable appearance and his expressed openness to regulation have drawn a stark contrast to the tech titans that preceded him. Ive made his name as the design guru who worked hand in hand with Apple cofounder and CEO Steve Jobs (and later Tim Cook) to create some of the world’s most popular consumer products—colorful iMac desktops, the buttonless iPhone, and an Apple watch slick enough to be considered a fashion accessory.  

Ive left Apple in 2019 to start his own design firm LoveFrom. 

OpenAI did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Representatives for Ive could not be reached.

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