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Artificial intelligence is unquestionably the next big battleground for big tech. So much hype has surrounded AI that top execs at Amazon, Meta, Apple, and AMD all reported major pushes into AI capabilities and applications in their latest quarterly earnings calls.
On Amazon's Q2 update, CEO Andy Jassy highlighted AI as "at the heart of what we do," saying the company is working to implement AI across all of its businesses from AWS to Alexa. He said AI will drive customer experiences and operations, calling it a "significant investment and focus."
With a net income of $6.7 billion in the second quarter of 2023, this was Amazon’s best performing quarter since 2020.
Specifically, Jassy stated: "AWS has continued to add to its meaningful leadership position in the cloud with a slew of generative AI releases that make it much easier and more cost-effective for companies to train and run models (Trainium and Inferentia chips), customize Large Language Models to build generative AI applications and agents (Bedrock), and write code much more efficiently with CodeWhisperer."
This builds on moves like the new $100 million Generative AI fund recently launched by AWS, Amazon's cloud computing arm.
Meanwhile, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg boasted about how the billions his company spent on AI infrastructure were clearly paying off in the form of better content recommendations and engagement on Facebook. He said AI-recommended posts are the fastest growing category of content on Facebook's news feed.
Meta has "partnered with Microsoft to open source Llama 2, the latest version of our large language model, and make it available for both research and commercial use," Zuckerberg elaborated. This hints at potential plans where Meta could soon release a commercial version of its LLaMA natural language model to outside developers.
Microsoft mentioned AI 175 times on its earnings call, so it’s clearly an important part of its business today.
Microsoft stocks have been rising throughout 2023, suggesting nobody has been surfing the AI hype wave as well as they are. The company secured a strategic partnership with OpenAI, which gives it a good slice of the revenue obtained by the world’s largest private LLM, and later partnered with Meta to profit from the world’s largest open source LLM.
The company reported revenue of $56.2 billion, up 8 percent year-on-year, and a big part of it is thanks to AI.
"Every customer I speak with is asking not only how, but how fast they can apply next-generation AI to address the biggest opportunities and challenges they face," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said.
Although AI has never headlined an Apple keynote presentation, CEO Tim Cook described AI and machine learning as "core, fundamental technologies" used in "virtually every product."
He said Apple has researched generative AI like ChatGPT "for years" and will "responsibly advance" it in products when ready. This aligns with new AI-powered iOS features like crash detection.
Apple's earnings call showed a slight decline in hardware sales: iPhone revenue was down from $40.7 billion to $39.7 billion, Mac revenue fell from $7.4 billion to $6.8 billion, and iPad revenue dropped from $7.2 billion to $5.8 billion. But the software side saved the ship: Apple set an all-time revenue record in services, going from $19.6 billion in the year-ago quarter to $21.2 billion.
Not to be left out, AMD CEO Lisa Su pointed to AI as a "multi-billion dollar opportunity" with customer AI engagements up 7X in the recent quarter. She expects new data center AI chips to launch by Q4 to tap into booming demand, and said AMD is "on-track to launch and ramp production of MI300 accelerators" for heavy AI workloads.