Apple is paying OpenAI for ChatGPT on iPhone with everyone's favorite currency: exposure

iPhone 15 Pro with a titanium finish running iOS 17
(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / Future / Apple)

WWDC 2024 was pretty huge, with announcements made for major upgrades to macOS Sequoia, iOS 18, and even some very good macOS gaming support. However, Apple Intelligence, and specifically Apple’s adoption of OpenAI’s ChatGPT was the biggest announcement  — yet OpenAI is expected to make nothing from the collaboration at the start. 

As reported by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, and attributed to “people briefed on the matter”, no money will be exchanged between either party. Interestingly, Gurman says “The partnership isn’t expected to generate meaningful revenue for either party — at least at the outset.” 

There’s a symbiotic relationship between the two companies, it is being reported, with OpenAI benefiting from the exposure of having its chatbot on Apple’s best iPhones, and Apple benefiting from finally having an AI chatbot in its devices. Apple Intelligence is created by Apple itself and runs all on-device AI use. Chatbots will be used to answer queries, much like what you would use Google for. ChatGPT is being offered for free on Apple devices but users can connect paid accounts to the service for, presumably, more premium features — though we don’t know the specifics of this yet. 

OpenAI currently uses Microsoft’s servers to run its cloud-based chatbot so, the more users that access the service, the more expensive those server fees will become. OpenAI needs to make money in some way from this collaboration and converting free users to premium ones is likely the best option for the company. However, this is only the start for Apple chatbots.

More to come 

Apple announced in its WWDC 2024 keynote speech that OpenAi won’t be the only chatbot supported by its iPhone operating system, though it will be the only one at launch. It’s worth noting that Apple’s deal with OpenAI is reminiscent of its partnership with Google, which helped cement the search engine as the most popular in the world. Google paid over $20 billion to make it the default engine in 2022 but the basic premise is the same. Making it the default engine on the most popular smartphone helped boost its notoriety, and this deal has proved very lucrative for both companies. 

Possibly to avoid being embroiled in another antitrust case, Apple is opening up lines of communication with ChatGPT competitors, as it is currently in talks with Google about using its chatbot, Gemini, on iPhone too. It seems the goal is to partner with lots of different chatbot companies, and then give iOS 18 users the choice as to which one they will use. ChatGPT will only be the default option for a limited time so it needs to provide a good enough user experience on launch for potential customers to stick with it when more options come along. This could be a make-or-break moment for the chatbot. 

iPhone 15 Pro | $0 at Amazon (with a contract)

iPhone 15 Pro | $0 at Amazon (with a contract)

Apple Intelligence will only work on iPhone 15 Pro, iPhone 15 Pro Max, and later iPhones so now might be the perfect time for an upgrade — especially now that you can get it for $64.72 a month. This also entitles you to a yearly iPhone upgrade and unlimited talk, text, and data.

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James Bentley

James is a staff writer and general Jack of all trades at iMore. With news, features, reviews, and guides under his belt, he has always liked Apple for its unique branding and distinctive style. Originally buying a Macbook for music and video production, he has since gone on to join the Apple ecosystem with as many devices as he can fit on his person. 

With a degree in Law and Media and being a little too young to move onto the next step of his law career, James started writing from his bedroom about games, movies, tech, and anything else he could think of. Within months, this turned into a fully-fledged career as a freelance journalist. Before joining iMore, he was a staff writer at Gfinity and saw himself published at sites like TechRadar, NME, and Eurogamer. 

As his extensive portfolio implies, James was predominantly a games journalist before joining iMore and brings with him a unique perspective on Apple itself. When not working, he is trying to catch up with the movies and albums of the year, as well as finally finishing the Yakuza series. If you like Midwest emo music or pretentious indie games that will make you cry, he’ll talk your ear off.