Apple faces a robot 'horror show,' analyst warns, as rumors of a new AI companion emerge

Amazon Astro robot in a home
(Image credit: Amazon)

Following the decision to finally cancel the Apple Car project once and for all, Apple apparently has a ton of money that it needs to find a home for. And right now, we're told that personal robot assistants could be where that money finds a new home. We've already heard that Apple is working on a robot that could follow you around the home, eager to do your bidding. And as futuristic as that might sound, it isn't something that has gotten everyone excited.

Apple wouldn't be the first to try a robot of this type of course and Amazon's Astro is already available, although only by invitation. But we have to imagine that, powered by Apple AI, an Apple robotic servant would up the ante somewhat. But that isn't enough to get Wedbush analyst Dan Ives interested. In fact, he says that trying to come up with a robot would be a "black eye moment" for Apple.

Arguing that AI will be Tim Cook's legacy, Ives also said that Apple would be a "horror show" if it tried to spend money on developing robots the likes of which it is tipped to have already turned to — and the analyst pointed squarely at the Apple Car debacle as a reason that Apple should instead focus its efforts on what he calls the "AI revolution."

No-go, Robo

In fact, the AI revolution is something that Ives seemed very keen on when he discussed the latest tech goings-on over on CNBC's Last Call show.

It's still unclear exactly what Apple's plans are of course, but Bloomberg's Mark Gurman explained what he'd heard in a recent Bloomberg report.

"Engineers at Apple have been exploring a mobile robot that can follow users around their homes," Gurman said when citing people "who asked not to be identified because the skunk-works project is private." Gurman went on to say that there are actually two products that are being considered, adding that Apple "also has developed an advanced table-top home device that uses robotics to move a display around."

However, as was very much the case with the Apple Car over its decades-long failure, Gurman also noted that this effort is in its early stages and that it's as-yet unclear whether any of the robot products Apple is working on will ever see the light of day.

At this point, it's worth remembering that Apple works on, tests, and develops all manner of hardware and software that is never released for various reasons. And again, we only need to look at the Apple Car to see proof of that — despite Apple sinking untold sums of money into it.

As for Dan Ives, he might have a point with regard to Apple's AI plans. CEO Cook has already made it clear that the company intends to get into AI in a big way in 2024 and we've been hearing rumors of notable improvements coming to iOS 18, macOS 15, and beyond.

The real question, following the news Apple recently laid off hundreds of employees, is whether it now has the bandwidth to do both AI software and robotics at the same time.

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Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.