Nvidia's meteoric rise to take Apple's spot as the planet's 2nd-most valuable company is a timely reminder of the iPhone maker's lagging response to AI

Siri on iOS
(Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

Apple and Nvidia might not be direct competitors in the same way that Apple and, say, Microsoft have historically been. Apple and Google is another adversarial pairing that springs to mind, as is Apple and Samsung for obvious reasons. Apple used Nvidia GPUs in its computers for a spell, and the pair are currently making headlines for a decidedly Wall Street reason. That's because Nvidia took Apple's spot as the world's second most valuable company after breaching the $3 trillion valuation mark.

That move means that Microsoft remains the most valuable company in the world with a market cap of $3.15 trillion dollars and Nvidia sits in second with a $3.01 billion cap. Nvidia's meteoric rise has seen its shares reach more than $1,220, albeit briefly — a share split is imminent. But the share price itself isn't the important aspect of this news. Not specifically, anyway. Because while Nvidia is best known by many as the company that makes pretty solid GPUs, its current surge above Apple isn't powered by GPU money but rather its importance in the new world of artificial intelligence.

Nvidia, you see, is a huge player in the world of AI servers. Apple is trying its own hand at AI silicon as well with the company about to power its data centers with M-series chips if reports are to be believed. Apple AI is expected to get a huge boost with the launch of iOS 18 at WWDC 2024 next week, and the most interesting features will be powered by Apple chips in Apple data centers. And while Apple won't be selling its chips in direct competition with Nvidia, the GPU-turned-AI company's ascent to second spot on the market cap list won't be lost on those who also believe that Apple's lagging in the world of AI might have caused its own share prices to lag just as much.

The AI race is on

But whether or not you agree that Apple has fallen behind in the race for new AI features, it's clear that changes are afoot.

The rumors are strong and leaks continue to point to a newfound focus on AI features for iOS 18 and the apps that come preinstalled on all iPhones. The Notes app is set to receive AI-powered transcription upgrades and even the lowly Calculator app won't be ignored if the rumors are true. Siri, the aging and often hapless digital assistant is expected to borrow OpenAI's ChatGPT chatbot know-how in an attempt to up its game, potentially turning an afterthought feature for many iPhone owners into the indispensable tool that it should always have been.

The price speculators and investors have to pay to buy a single Nvidia share has nothing to do with those features, but the powers that be within Apple Park's walls will no doubt have noticed the name of the company that took its spot behind Microsoft. And the irony that it's done so by refocusing on AI at a time when Apple is about to do exactly the same thing will surely be lost on nobody.

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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.