The fascinating way Microsoft and Apple are being forced to team up

Phil Schiller standing on stage.
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Apple announced its deal with OpenAI as part of Apple Intelligence at WWDC 2024, and now more details have been released about the partnership. According to reports from Bloomberg, Apple will get an observer role on OpenAI’s board of directors — just like Microsoft.

Former marketing chief and current Apple Fellow Phil Schiller is the one taking the job — he’ll get to look in on OpenAI’s board meetings and find out what the company is planning and how it makes its decisions. As the “observer” role name suggests, however, he will not be able to vote or otherwise participate in meeting procedures.

According to earlier reports, the partnership between Apple and OpenAI is totally cash-free. Instead, it appears OpenAI gets long-term exposure for ChatGPT, and in return, Apple gets this opportunity to stay up-to-date with the development of OpenAI products. However, there could easily be other factors at play as well.

ChatGPT broke records as the fastest-growing consumer application in history, so you might wonder if it really needs any “exposure” from Apple. But talk of the so-called “AI bubble” suggests we don’t yet know whether interest in AI will stand the test of time. By teaming up with the oldest tech giants around, OpenAI can prepare for multiple outcomes.

OpenAI’s other observer, Microsoft, has already been working closely with the company for a long time, and even made investments when it was still a startup. Recently, they partnered up on Microsoft Copilot — which makes it seem like ChatGPT is behind all the big AI products right now. Despite their long friendship, however, macOS was the first operating system to get a native ChatGPT app.