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In an era where technology advancements are often measured in leaps rather than incremental steps, it is becoming increasingly clear that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not just a background player but a front-runner steering the narrative. As major tech companies including Apple, Microsoft, and Google are donning AI integrations into their devices, one of the looming questions is why these advanced features are available only on new and pricier models.

A recent announcement from Apple indicated the upcoming intelligence features on iOS 18, which include AI integrations such as text rewriting and sophisticated notification management. However, these AI functionalities will only be available on the latest top-end models, namely the iPhone 15 Pro and the 15 Pro Max with the M1 chip or newer. While the other upgrades, including new tools for messaging and improved home screen customization, will be accessible on all iOS 17 devices, the AI components will remain exclusive to the latest lineup.

AI is increasingly becoming a critical selling point in the tech industry, a theme reminiscent of the dash to 5G technology in recent years. The approach of compartmentalizing advanced AI features to newer and higher-priced devices is not unique to Apple. Others in the arena, like Microsoft and Google, have also indicated similar deployment of their new AI software features on specified hardware. However, a clear explanation is yet to be offered by these tech giants as to why their older devices don't support these AI features.

The intricacies behind this strategy are multilayered. For one, it could be about ensuring optimal performance. AI-powered features often demand robust and intensive computational power, which older devices may not be equipped to handle. This way, tech companies maintain the functionality, reliability, and user experience they can vouch for.

Perhaps more germane to this issue is the probable business strategy. Encouraging upgrades with AI integrations as an exclusive temptation could foster the company's growth and profit margins, igniting what some might call a forced technological evolution where users are compelled to chase the relentless release of improved devices to access top-tier features and tools.

The trend underlines a new degree of the tech industry's battleground – the seamless integration and use of AI. The impact on consumers is promising, with AI's potential to completely revolutionize how they interact with their devices. However, it also demands closer inspection from a fairness and affordability perspective, as the 'keeping up with the AI race' model shoulders cost implications on the users.

As we gear up for these advancements, it will be interesting to see how this rollout affects the broader tech landscape and user behavior. Will users bite the AI-equipped, high-priced apple or will cost considerations provoke them to wait until AI advancements are "democratized" across device ranges? Only time will tell. What's clear though is that the AI tech race marks a new chapter in the ongoing saga of digital evolution, shaping a future that is both exciting and challenging in equal measure.