Baidu (9888.HK) has partnered with Lenovo to integrate its generative artificial intelligence (AI) technology onto Lenovo smartphones. This collaboration signifies Baidu’s ongoing efforts to explore practical applications for its AI model. It marks the company’s latest venture with a phone manufacturer in the pursuit of expanding its technological innovations.
This week, a spokesperson for Beijing-based Baidu informed Reuters that Lenovo is actively utilizing its Ernie large language model (LLM) in a partnership. This collaboration mirrors similar agreements announced last month with Samsung and Honor.
Lenovo sells its own brand of phones and also owns Motorola. Lenovo’s personal computers and tablets already have Ernie embedded in their browsers and app store apps.
Lenovo did not return a request for comment.
Since the release of ChatGPT in late 2022, the technology has gained popularity, leading to a new global trend. Companies are actively selling smartphones with generative AI features for services like chatbots and real-time translation.
Google, recognized as a leader in AI smartphones, showcases its dominance through Pixel phones and a robust cloud-based AI. Meanwhile, Apple is reportedly striving to integrate generative AI models into the iPhone.
Canalys expects 5% of smartphones shipped globally in 2024, or 60 million devices, to be AI-capable.
However, AI services powered by US companies such as ChatGPT maker OpenAI and Google are not available in China, leaving the market to Chinese firms. The Chinese market now has over 200 AI models available, including those from Baidu’s main rivals Alibaba and Tencent.
Last November, Baidu CEO Robin Li stated that firms should now focus on developing practical applications. China’s top phone brands, including Vivo, Xiaomi, and Huawei, are also developing their own on-device AI models, However, they have not revealed any details as of now.
Baidu could benefit significantly from smartphone collaborations in this arena. Additionally, integrating its AI features deeply with smartphones could grant the company access to a massive amount of data. This, in turn, has the potential to enable Baidu’s LLM to catch up to rival AI companies in the United States.
“Adapting LLM on smartphones is the right moment to promote AI-powered features, although they may be limited now. In the long run, they may become a ‘must-have’,” said Ivan Lam, an analyst at Counterpoint Research.