Apple secures ‘observer’ seat on OpenAI board

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Following Apple’s partnership announcement with OpenAI at WWDC last month, a new report reveals that the tech giant will secure an “observer role” on OpenAI’s board of directors.

The new arrangement – set to take effect later this year – will see Apple’s long-time marketing chief turned Apple Fellow, Phil Schiller, representing the company in this capacity.

According to Bloomberg, Apple’s position on the OpenAI board will mirror that of Microsoft—the AI company’s largest backer and primary technology provider.

While Schiller will be able to attend board meetings, he will not have voting power or other director privileges. However, this role will grant Apple valuable insights into OpenAI’s decision-making processes.

The partnership between Apple and OpenAI, announced at WWDC in June, will bring ChatGPT integration to iOS 18 as part of the Apple Intelligence suite of features.

Notably, this collaboration does not involve any financial exchange between the two companies. Apple reportedly views the exposure given to ChatGPT in iOS 18 as “of equal or greater value” than monetary compensation, while OpenAI benefits from the reach of Apple’s platforms.

Bloomberg’s report indicates that Schiller “hasn’t yet attended any meetings” of the OpenAI board, and “details of the situation could still change.” This cautious approach suggests that both companies are carefully navigating this new relationship.

Schiller’s appointment to this role is particularly noteworthy given his extensive experience and current responsibilities at Apple.

Since transitioning to an Apple Fellow role in 2020, Schiller has continued to lead the App Store and Apple events, reporting directly to CEO Tim Cook. He has also been at the forefront of Apple’s efforts to defend the App Store against global antitrust allegations.

By securing a seat at OpenAI’s table, even in an observer capacity, Apple positions itself to gain valuable insights into one of the leading AI research organisations.

(Photo by Daniel McCullough)

See also: EU probes Microsoft-OpenAI and Google-Samsung AI deals

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