Apple Datakalab

Apple Buys French AI Startup Datakalab

Apple quietly acquired Paris-based AI startup Datakalab in December, as first spotted by French business magazine Challenges. The deal is the latest signal that Apple will be upping its generative AI projects as it continues to acquire and hire ahead of a likely public announcement later this year.

Apple AI Datakalab

Datakalab had set itself as a provider of fast, cost-effective, and precise embedded computer vision solutions. The startup’s work centered on data compression and image analysis. Founded in 2016, the company boasts a team of between 11 and 50 employees. One of Datakalab’s notable projects involved collaborating with the French government during the pandemic to visually monitor compliance with face mask mandates on Paris’s transportation systems and social distancing measures in Cannes.

Apple’s interest in Datakalab likely stems from its alignment with the tech giant’s values of user privacy and data protection. Despite its government work, Datakalab has emphasized its commitment to privacy and data security, refraining from collecting or storing personal data as part of its enforcement activities. Datakalab’s work with entertainment companies to measure audience engagement might also have appealed to Apple.

Apple AI Demand

As Apple gears up for its Worldwide Developer Conference in June, anticipation mounts for further insights into its generative AI integration strategy and the potential impact of its acquisition of Datakalab on future product offerings. For instance, the company explicitly described the new M3 MacBook Air as good for AI work.

Speculation abounds regarding Apple’s plans for incorporating AI across its products and services, including the integration of an AI chatbot into Siri and potential updates to its Photos and iMovie apps. Moreover, Apple’s interest in on-device AI processing reflects its commitment to enhancing user experience while safeguarding privacy.

Apple’s ongoing lack of generative AI projects in the public eye stands out compared to what its tech giant peers like Google and Microsoft are doing. This acquisition, plus the recent purchase of DarwinAI, suggested Apple may be bulking up its tech and staff in the AI space. Other indicators of Apple’s generative AI plans have included the shutdown of the San Diego Data Operations Annotations group to consolidate its work with Apple’s AI group in Texas. San Diego’s office focuses on teaching Siri to understand and communicate in Hebrew, English, and multiple dialects of Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, and French.


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