Apple - Google deal on Gemini AI could be a disaster — here's why

Apple logo on phone with Google logo in the background
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When Bloomberg recently reported that Apple was killing its Apple car project, I wasn’t that surprised. But I was disappointed that we're unlikely to see a project that spent more than a decade in development ever come to fruition.

Could this have been the first truly self-driving car? Regardless, I was bummed to learn that Apple was shutting down such an ambitious initiative. I understand why, as Bloomberg's Mark Gurman wrote: “The company’s board was also concerned about continuing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on a project that may never see the light of day.”

That’s fair reasoning, and sure enough Apple’s stock price went up after this report surfaced. Why? Not just because Apple was going to save a lot of money but because the same report said that this move would free up resources to focus on new generative AI features. But recent reports have me worried about Apple's AI strategy. 

Apple + Google = Investors first?

Apple could bring Google Gemini to iPhone

(Image credit: Apple/Google)

You’ve heard of AI, right? It’s the buzzword that’s become the drinking game at every major tech event. OpenAI opened the floodgates with ChatGPT and Google is trying to play catch-up with its own Gemini product. And there’s plenty of other players in this exploding space, including Midjourney, Runway and Claude.

Apple can’t buy its way into competing with the Galaxy S24 and its Galaxy AI features or the Google Pixel 8. Apple needs to innovate.

Now Apple is reportedly contemplating a deal with Google that would see CEO Tim Cook bring Gemini AI features to the iPhone. Bloomberg broke the story and then The New York Times backed up this rumor with a report of its own. 

One could view this as an extension of Apple’s long-standing agreement with Google, for which Google pays Apple more than $18 billion a year to make it the default search engine in the iPhone’s Safari browser. 

Sure enough, Apple’s stock has been on the rise since these new reports surfaced. But this is not the way I want to see Apple catch up in the AI race. Apple can’t buy its way into competing with the Galaxy S24 and its Galaxy AI features or the Google Pixel 8 and its generative AI goodies. Apple needs to innovate. 

Breaking new AI ground or retreading ground?

iOS 18 logo on iPhone in person's lap

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Back in late February during Apple’s annual shareholder meeting, Tim Cook promised that the company would “break new ground in generative AI.” But now I’m wondering if Apple will be retreading ground instead.

Rumor has it that Apple has big plans in store for iOS 18 and especially a new version of Siri. In fact, we’re hearing that iOS 18 will be the biggest iPhone software update ever because of the AI features Apple has been working on. But I’m worried that this rumored deal will look like Apple taking a shortcut to relevancy in order to placate investors. 

It’s far from a mainstream hit but I like the Apple that "thinks different" and takes bold risks. Take the Apple Vision Pro — it’s heavy and expensive but it’s also an amazing look at the future of computing and entertainment. And I also like the fact that Apple decided to go ahead with this product despite reports of internal infighting at the company over whether the headset was ready for primetime. 

Now Apple can keep refining the Vision Pro as it reportedly accelerates the development of a lower-cost headset and eventually develops true AR Apple glasses. Could this whole category flame out? Maybe. Apparently Sony has stopped making PSVR 2 headsets altogether due to overstuffed inventory. But I think Apple has a really good chance at pushing this category forward — investors be damned.

Now's the time to think different

Tim Cook

(Image credit: Getty Images)

So back to AI. I’m excited to see what Apple can do with generative AI. And while I get the temptation to get in bed with Google for a short-term boost, I’m concerned that Apple is compromising its principles to make Wall Street happy. Plugging in someone else’s search engine is one thing. But partnering with Google to bring its generative AI platform to the iPhone sounds uninspired. 

For Apple to truly compete, it will need to put consumers first — and not investors — and leverage AI in new and creative ways that are quintessentially Apple. 

More from Tom's Guide

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.

  • retro76
    Apple was never building an electric car, I have no idea why the media continues to repeat this nonsense. They modified several vehicles with testing equipment to thoroughly test Car Play, Crash Detection, and other features and for some reason the media thinks this means they were building a vehicle.
  • Kenobi101
    Google is actually paying Apple not the other way around as reported. This will be an excellent deal for both I think. I enjoy using the pro version of Gemini much better than GPT 4.
  • Aliasrocks
    Author, you seem to have misunderstood who is paying whom. Google pays apple and thus the entire premise of you article seems incorrect.