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Apple's big WWDC 2024 announcement may be an AI App Store

Apple AI

Apple's AI strategy may not necessarily be to only offer the best AI apps it can produce, but instead deliver an enhanced AI App Store that may debut at WWDC.

Apple, like many other tech companies, is hard at work introducing AI elements to its operating systems and software, and could potentially bring those products out to consumers in 2024. However, Apple may have other plans on how to make money from AI.

Speaking to CNBC on Monday, Melius Research head of technology research Ben Reitzes believes Apple will lay the groundwork for a new AI App Store in June. This will apparently include detailing how consumers will be able to acquire AI apps from an assortment of vendors.

Reitzes explains the reasoning by referring to Apple's other storefronts which have become industry-changing behemoths. Apple "has a history of convincing a lot of leaders to make apps or do something with them, while they perfect the ecosystem," he insists.

It's not entirely relevant, but as an example, the analyst offers Steve Jobs talking to record labels to get on board with downloads and a vision of a dollar per song, before producing the iTunes store.

What is more relevant is the iPhone App Store. For that, Reitzes pointis out that Apple made only some of the apps, but convinced others to make them.

Reitzes feels that it is the same story again, but for AI. Apple will offer its own AI services, but the company is in discussions with other companies to offer their AI apps for sale, possibly as part of an AI App Store.

In the research note released on Monday, Melius Research said "We think Tim Cook and his team are running around speaking to rivals because they are channeling their inner Steve' persuasion skills."

Reitzes forecasts that Apple will detail how to buy AI apps from the App Store at WWDC, it will have its own apps, an AI assistant, and an upgrade to Siri. Signs of how AI will flow into Apple's Services business are also expected to at least be previewed.

A storefront of AI apps

The concept of an App Store for AI isn't entirely new, as other analysts have proposed the same thing. In February, for example, Wedbush wrote that Apple will push into AI and eventually create "a separate AI App Store."

Wedbush also wrote that Apple was anticipated to internally discuss the concept at WWDC. Whether those talks will involve developers is another matter.

Reitzes' comments about how Apple has talked to others, including Google, about adding listings to an AI-specific App Store may also be grounded in fact. Apple has reportedly talked to companies including Baidu to handle generative AI services in China, and it's plausible the talks could've strayed into the topic of a dedicated App Store.

Apple has also been in discussions with Google to license the search giant's Gemini AI to provide AI improvements to Siri. Like many other AI services, Google Gemini is already accessible via an app accessible from the App Store, so there would be little friction in including that within an AI-specific store.

WWDC 2024 will take place in early June. The event has yet to be announced.