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The next Generative AI battlegrounds
OpenAI managed to get a jump on the established US tech giants with the launch of ChatGPT last November.
However, Google, Microsoft and Meta are now all well and truly at the generative AI party, releasing a constant stream of new research and consumer tools (whilst Amazon and Apple experiment largely behind the scenes).
If LLM-powered chatbots were the first consumer battleground (ChatGPT vs Bard vs Bing), then models which generate other forms of media (images, videos, music, voice) and the combination thereof (e.g. in presentations and websites) are amongst the next.
Scale-ups focused on single domains such as Midjourney (images), Runway (video), Boomy (music) and Elevenlabs (voice) have developed compelling standalone products. But the Eye of Sauron is starting to turn and we should expect to see the tech giants’ experimental research in generating other media types rapidly morph into user-facing tools.
Whilst some of these tools will be given their own shop window (e.g. Firefly, Image Creator), the main focus will be on integrating these new capabilities into existing products and services (e.g. Photoshop, Microsoft 365) to increase retention and/or generate a new revenue stream.
The degree of collaboration/partnership between OpenAI, Microsoft and Meta and the amount of open sourcing (or pseudo open sourcing) going on adds an interesting dimension to how this will likely play out, with how effective the integration is potentially a bigger differentiator than the capabilities of the underlying models.
Integration at a device-level may prove even more significant and is no doubt where Apple will be placing the majority of their generative AI chips (both metaphorical and physical).
As well as avoiding cloud processing costs and alleviating privacy concerns, on-device processing can enable offline generation and a tighter integration with the operating system.
All of which is likely to favour the incumbent tech behemoths and push more of the current crop of innovative AI start-ups and scale-ups into, best-case, licensing or acquisition or, worst case, liquidation.
One thing is certain - the above diagram will look very different in 6-12 months time, with fewer gaps and asterisks and with Apple, and potentially Amazon, present and fighting for their slice of the consumer generative AI pie.
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