Apple’s former chief design officer, Jony Ive, is reportedly in talks with OpenAI to develop the “iPhone of artificial intelligence” with the help of over $1 billion in funding from Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son. The collaboration aims to create a consumer device that offers a more natural and intuitive user experience in interacting with AI. Ive and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman have been discussing the design of such a device at Ive’s San Francisco studio. Funding for the project is coming from Son, who has also pushed for Arm, a chip design company in which he holds a 90% stake, to play a central role.
Ive, who played a key role in creating the first iPhone, has previously voiced concerns about compulsive smartphone usage. In 2018, he stated that Apple had a moral responsibility to address the addictive nature of its technology, and called on tech companies to anticipate unintended consequences when designing new products. The OpenAI project could offer Ive an opportunity to develop an interactive computing device that is less reliant on screens, aligning with his previous concerns. Altman, through his investments in Humane, a hardware and software startup founded by ex-Apple employees, has already been involved in the development of a screenless wearable AI device intended to replace smartphones.
While the details of the Altman, Ive, and Son collaboration are still in the early stages and no deal has been confirmed, the discussions are reportedly “serious.” The project aims to create a device that revolutionizes the user experience in interacting with AI, similar to how the original iPhone transformed the way we interact with the mobile internet. The involvement of Son’s funding and Arm’s chip design expertise signifies the potential significance and ambition of this partnership in the field of artificial intelligence.