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For Apple’s AI Push, China Is a Missing Piece

ChatGPT isn’t available in China, prompting Apple to seek local partner for its artificial-intelligence services
ChatGPT 在中国不可用,促使苹果寻找本地合作伙伴提供其人工智能服务

Updated ET
2024 年 6 月 20 日上午 12:18 更新 东部时间

China is the world’s No. 2 market for iPhones. Photo: Cfoto/Zuma Press
中国是全球第二大 iPhone 市场。照片:Cfoto / Zuma Press

Apple’s AAPL -1.10%decrease; red down pointing triangle presentation on artificial intelligence this month offered examples of how American iPhone users could soon enjoy AI tools such as a custom emoji generator. No one mentioned China, the second-largest market for iPhones.
本月苹果公司关于人工智能的演示提供了示例,说明美国 iPhone 用户很快就可以享受到诸如定制表情符号生成器等人工智能工具。没有人提到中国,这是 iPhone 的第二大市场。

There is good reason for the omission.

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OpenAI’s ChatGPT and other Western AI models aren’t available in China, and that is prompting Apple to look for a Chinese partner to help offer its Apple Intelligence services, said people in the industry. So far, no deal has been announced, with the next iPhone model releases just months away.
OpenAI 的 ChatGPT 和其他西方人工智能模型在中国不可用,这促使苹果寻找中国合作伙伴来帮助提供其苹果智能服务,行业内人士表示。到目前为止,尚未宣布任何交易,下一款 iPhone 型号发布仅几个月之后。

In China, Apple is falling behind local rivals that have already incorporated AI functions into their phones. The iPhone dropped to third place by handset market share among smartphone brands in China in the first quarter of this year behind two local brands, according to Counterpoint Research.
在中国,苹果正落后于已将人工智能功能整合到手机中的本土竞争对手。根据 Counterpoint Research 的数据,今年第一季度,iPhone 在中国智能手机品牌中的市场份额下降至第三位,落后于两个本土品牌。

Apple has held talks with several Chinese companies that make AI models including search-engine company Baidu, e-commerce leader Alibaba Group and a Beijing-based startup called Baichuan AI, people familiar with the matter said.
据知情人士透露,苹果已与包括搜索引擎公司百度、电商领军企业阿里巴巴集团以及总部位于北京的初创企业百川 AI 在内的多家中国公司进行了会谈。

In the U.S., Apple is pursuing a two-pronged strategy to deliver AI services. It is building its own AI capabilities while also teaming up with OpenAI. Anticipation over Apple’s future AI-related offerings has helped push the company’s market capitalization back above $3 trillion.
在美国,苹果正在实施一项双管齐下的策略,提供人工智能服务。它正在建立自己的人工智能能力,同时也与 OpenAI 合作。对于苹果未来与人工智能相关的产品的期待推动了该公司的市值再次超过 3 万亿美元。

In China, companies must seek Beijing’s approval before introducing AI chatbots built on large language models trained with huge databases of text, images and video vacuumed up from the internet and other sources. Regulators vet the models to ensure they don’t influence public opinion in a way the government doesn’t approve.
在中国,公司必须在引入基于大型语言模型构建的 AI 聊天机器人之前征得北京的批准,这些模型是通过从互联网和其他来源搜集的大量文本、图像和视频进行训练的。监管机构审查这些模型,以确保它们不会以政府不批准的方式影响公众舆论。

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As of March, Beijing’s internet watchdog, the Cyberspace Administration of China, had approved 117 generative AI products, none of which is foreign-developed.
截至三月,北京的互联网监管机构中国互联网信息办公室已批准了 117 个生成式人工智能产品,其中没有一个是外国开发的。

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Early this year, Apple explored the possibility of obtaining approval for a foreign large language model to be used in its devices in China, but it found that Chinese regulators were unlikely to approve it, people familiar with the matter said. That realization prompted Apple to step up talks with potential local partners, they said.

Apple said the region that includes mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau accounted for 18% of its global revenue in the quarter ended March 30.
苹果表示,截至 3 月 30 日的季度,包括中国大陆、台湾、香港和澳门在内的地区占其全球收入的 18%。

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Its position is threatened by local companies. This year, Huawei is expected to account for 17% of China’s smartphone market, up from 13% last year, while Apple’s share is projected to drop to 16% from 18%, according to Counterpoint.
其地位受到本地公司的威胁。根据 Counterpoint 的数据,预计今年华为在中国智能手机市场的份额将从去年的 13%增至 17%,而苹果的份额预计将从 18%下降至 16%。

Apple said it remains well-placed in China. “China is the most competitive market in the world, and we feel confident about our position,” Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri told The Wall Street Journal in an interview last month.

Apple is falling behind local rivals in China. Photo: Bloomberg News

In China, as in the U.S., smartphone makers are using generative AI in their sales pitches to entice users to upgrade because technology is advancing more slowly in other features.

The closest precedent for Apple Intelligence in China comes from Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest smartphone maker by shipments. In January, Samsung introduced its Galaxy S24 smartphone series, with generative AI features such as real-time translation of calls and text messages, AI-powered photo editing, and Google searches triggered by circling an image on the phone.
在中国,苹果智能的最接近先例来自三星电子,这是全球出货量最大的智能手机制造商。今年 1 月,三星推出了 Galaxy S24 智能手机系列,具有生成式人工智能功能,如实时通话和短信翻译、AI 动力的照片编辑,以及通过在手机上画圈触发的谷歌搜索。


In the U.S. and most of the rest of the world, the services are powered by Samsung’s own generative AI engine plus the AI capabilities of Google, a longtime Samsung partner. Because Google’s AI model, Gemini, isn’t available in China, Samsung instead turned to two Chinese companies for the Galaxy S24 in China. Baidu is handling “circle to search,” text summation and other AI functions, and software maker Meitu enables AI-based photo editing.
在美国和世界大部分地区,这些服务由三星自己的生成式人工智能引擎以及谷歌的人工智能能力提供支持,谷歌是三星的长期合作伙伴。由于谷歌的人工智能模型 Gemini 在中国不可用,三星转而向两家中国公司寻求帮助,为中国的 Galaxy S24 提供支持。百度负责“圈选搜索”、文本摘要和其他人工智能功能,软件制造商美图实现了基于人工智能的照片编辑。


What steps do you expect Apple to take to offer AI in China? Join the conversation below.

The capabilities of the Baidu-powered AI have drawn some unfavorable reviews from Chinese internet users. Some compared Google’s AI on the Galaxy S24 with Baidu’s and found Google was able to identify car models and buildings from photographs while Baidu couldn’t. Others praised Baidu’s technology, saying its Chinese-language translation was more authentic and its search results were more relevant to users in China.
百度 AI 的能力引起了一些中国网民的不利评论。一些人将 Galaxy S24 上的谷歌 AI 与百度的进行比较,发现谷歌能够从照片中识别汽车型号和建筑物,而百度却不能。还有一些人赞扬百度的技术,称其中文翻译更地道,搜索结果更符合中国用户的需求。

A Samsung spokeswoman said the company chose to collaborate with Baidu because Samsung determined that Baidu offered the most competitive commercialized large language AI model in the Chinese market. Samsung declined to comment on comparisons between the AI versions, and Baidu didn’t respond to a request for comment. 


Samsung accounts for about 1% of China’s smartphone market, and China isn’t a major contributor to the South Korean company’s profit.
三星在中国智能手机市场占比约为 1%,中国并不是这家韩国公司利润的主要贡献者。

The closest precedent for Apple Intelligence in China comes from Samsung. Photo: Yuyu Chen/Avalon/ZUMA Press
在中国,苹果智能的最接近先例来自三星。照片:Yuyu Chen/Avalon/ZUMA Press

Adapting products and services to Chinese rules is nothing new for tech companies. In China, Apple’s iCloud service houses data on the servers of a government-owned company. Apple is rolling out its Vision Pro headset in China this month without its streaming service, Apple TV+, which isn’t available in the country.
调整产品和服务以符合中国规定对于科技公司来说并不是什么新鲜事。在中国,苹果的 iCloud 服务将数据存储在一家政府拥有的公司的服务器上。苹果本月在中国推出其 Vision Pro 头戴式耳机,但不包括其流媒体服务 Apple TV+,该服务在中国不可用。

Apple has long enjoyed a relatively privileged place in the Chinese market because of its economic role in the country. Most iPhones are assembled in China by Taiwanese or Chinese contract manufacturers. Apple has said it has helped create some five million jobs in China, including in its supply chain and App Store ecosystem.
苹果长期以来在中国市场享有相对特权地位,这是因为它在中国的经济作用。大多数 iPhone 是由台湾或中国的合同制造商在中国组装的。苹果表示,它在中国创造了约 500 万个工作岗位,包括在其供应链和 App Store 生态系统中。

Still, the rise of Chinese patriotism could affect Apple’s standing, said Tom Kang, a research director at Counterpoint. “China is increasingly targeting U.S. companies one by one. So it’s whether Apple becomes a target or not—that will be the key issue,” he said.
尽管如此,Counterpoint 的研究总监汤姆·康表示,中国爱国主义的崛起可能会影响苹果的地位。“中国越来越多地逐个瞄准美国公司。因此,苹果是否成为目标,这将是关键问题,”他说道。

Write to Raffaele Huang at raffaele.huang@wsj.com and Jiyoung Sohn at jiyoung.sohn@wsj.com
请写信给 Raffaele Huang,邮箱是 raffaele.huang@wsj.com,以及 Jiyoung Sohn,邮箱是 jiyoung.sohn@wsj.com。


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Appeared in the June 20, 2024, print edition as 'China Frustrates Apple’s AI Push'.
2024 年 6 月 20 日印刷版上出现了“中国阻碍了苹果的人工智能推动”这一标题。