Apple's Surprise Event

that was unexpected.

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Welcome back! 🍎
Here’s the latest with Apple.

  • Apple’s May event is official

  • New open-source AI models

  • Bad news for Apple Vision Pro

  • RIP FineWoven cases

  • & more!

📖 Read time: 4 minutes

📊 Poll

Last week, I asked: Do you play games on your iPhone? What are your favorites?

Here are some of my favorite replies:

Yes - “Maybe slightly embarrassingly as of lately. After you put out a recent video about Delta, I’ve reverted back to my youth and been playing many hours of N64 games! Sorry, not sorry 😂” Same!

No - “Rarely. Generally only like Wordle or games like that. I use my iPad for more traditional games.”

This week: Do you think the Apple Vision Pro will succeed long-term? Why or why not?

Will Vision Pro Succeed Long-Term?

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🗞️ The Latest

📺 Surprise Apple Event

Turns out Apple will be hosting an event before WWDC after all!

  • Apple announced its upcoming Let Loose event will take place on May 7th at 10am EST.

  • The invite graphic makes it obvious but Apple is expected to release a new Apple Pencil, along with the M3 iPad Air and M3 iPad Pro.

  • I made a full video detailing what you can expect from these iPads.

  • The only thing that has changed since is that mini LED is no longer expected for the 12.9” iPad Air.

  • Apple is sticking with LCD screens for the Air and going OLED for the Pro’s.

It has been over 550 days since any iPad has been refreshed, so I’d expect hype & sales to be strong, especially for the iPad Pro. Bring on May 7th!

📲 Apple’s AI Progression

Apple just released OpenELM (Open-source Efficient Language Models), a new set of small LLMs that are designed to run on-device instead of through the cloud.

  • OpenELM was published on Hugging Face, a machine-learning community where you can find & share thousands of AI models.

  • The white paper reveals 8 models — four that were pre-trained using CoreNet, and four that are instruction-tuned models.

  • CoreNet is the library Apple used to train the models and that has also been open-sourced.

  • These are small models with parameter sizes of 270M, 450M, 1.1B, and 3B.

OpenELM uses a layer-wise scaling strategy to efficiently allocate parameters within each layer of the transformer model, leading to enhanced accuracy.

For example, with a parameter budget of approximately one billion parameters, OpenELM exhibits a 2.36% improvement in accuracy compared to OLMo while requiring 2x fewer pre-training tokens.

Apple & open-source are two words that rarely appear in the same sentence, so this release was encouraging to see.

There’s no doubt at this point, Apple’s big plan for AI is to run everything on-device. And that makes the most sense given Apple’s goal: to keep user data private and secure.

Custom AI Chip

  • Apple is working with TSMC to develop an in-house AI server processor.

  • This processor will be manufactured using TSMC's ‌3nm‌ node.

  • They’re aiming for mass production by the second half of 2025.

Another Acquisition

Apple acquired at least 32 AI startups in 2023, the most of any other tech company. And this week, we learned about another.

  • Apple has acquired Datakalab, a Paris-based AI startup that specializes in data compression and image analysis.

  • The acquisition was finalized in December 2023 but only recently made public.

  • Datakalab focuses on low-power, high-efficiency deep learning algorithms that run on-device — exactly what Apple plans to do with their software.

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🥽 Apple Vision.. Fail?

The Apple Vision Pro headset is a niche product, but even the niche audience isn’t buying it. But don’t believe every headline you read.

  • Demand for in-store demos is way down, according to Bloomberg. And the people who do book appointments often don't show up.

  • Sales have also cooled off. They’ve gone from “a couple of units a day to just a handful in a whole week.”

  • Apple has cut its 2024 Vision Pro shipments to 400–450k units.

  • Kuo mentioned that the market consensus was 700–800k units, but that contradicts his January note that claimed Apple’s goal was 500k units. Strange. Plus, we heard several reports that production constraints would lead to less than 500k units in 2024.

  • So, this doesn’t appear to be a terrible production cut like some headlines made it seem.

  • Apple is now adjusting its headset roadmap and Kuo says there may not be a new Vision Pro model in 2025, as they originally planned.

  • Apple is now expected to take a "conservative view" of demand when the Vision Pro launches in other countries.

I have to admit, I’m not using my Vision Pro nearly as much as I was in the first month of ownership. It’s simply too cumbersome and annoying to set up every time I want to use it. It’s a whole process, whereas my computer and phone are right there within reach and just work without much setup, thinking, or time.

I still use my Vision Pro for movies and it’s an incredible experience every time. But now, I rarely use it for work. There are too many variables (battery life, hand tracking, etc) that I have to keep in mind while working, which splits my focus.

Plus, there’s still no “killer app” or killer use case to make me want to go through the hassle for.

With that being said, this is still version 1.0 — both hardware and software. I’d expect major improvements and features to be added in visionOS 2 and beyond.

Apple knows that software features & apps are the key to the Vision Pro’s long-term success.

💀 RIP FineWoven

Apple’s decision to ditch real leather cases for the FineWoven line turned out to be a mistake.

  • Apple has reportedly stopped production of all FineWoven accessories.

  • They are set to release one final round of accessories (likely new colors) before the material is gone for good.

  • This is due to the overwhelmingly negative response to the cases deteriorating over time.

  • Apple might move on to another non-leather material for its premium accessories in the future.

The initial response to FineWoven was negative and somehow Apple still hasn’t figured out how to improve the durability.

So, expect Apple’s next attempt to be a more durable material that doesn’t try to mimic leather.

📰 Quick News Bites

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