(Reuters) - International Business Machines on Tuesday said that it will release a family of artificial intelligence models as open-source software, and that it will help Saudi Arabia train an AI system in Arabic.

The Armonk, New York-based company has taken a different approach to making money from AI than some of its rivals such as Microsoft and others that are tightly guarding their AI models and charging for access to them. Similar to Facebook owner Meta Platforms, IBM is instead providing open access to the models themselves and on Wednesday opened its "Granite" family of AI models for companies to customize.

The Granite tools are designed to help software developers complete computer code faster. To make money off the models, IBM offers a paid tool it calls Watsonx that helps run the models smoothly inside a data center after they have been customized.

IBM's strategy has been to try to make money when customers actually get use out of AI models, whether they came from IBM or others and whether they run in IBM's data centers or not.

"We believe we're in the early days of generative AI models," IBM's Chief Executive Arvind Krishna told Reuters. "Competition at the end of the day is good for buyers. We also want to be safe and responsible."

IBM also said that the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority will train its "ALLaM" Arabic language model using Watsonx, adding new language skills to IBM's offerings, including the ability to understand multiple dialects of Arabic.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

By Stephen Nellis