Google might make us pay to use AI search engine

Google might make us pay to use AI search engine


04 April 2024

Google has been criticized for its ad-filled search offering, which is now less useful. The company is shifting its attention to a new AI-powered search and allegedly is considering a significant change to its business strategy for Google Search.

Simply put, Google is mulling a move in which you may either tolerate a subpar search experience cluttered with advertisements. Alternatively, you may pay a fee for Google's new AI-powered search experience, which effectively sums up your results for you.

The Financial Times claimed that Google is pondering a "seismic" adjustment to its cash cow. The move reflects the company's uncertainty about how to monetize AI without jeopardizing its current business.

According to the FT, Google is exploring integrating AI-powered search into premium subscription services. Premium users already have access to Google's Gemini AI assistant, as seen in Gmail and Docs. Given Google's near-total monopoly on search traffic, the AI-powered version of Google search has already threatened to significantly reshape the web — and an AI experience that summarizes content rather than directing users to click on links implies a slew of negative downstream consequences for content creators and publishers.

Google engineers are purportedly working on technology that will allow AI-based search to be paid for, but the company's leadership has yet to decide whether to proceed.

To grasp the tightrope that Google is walking, consider: Last year, the corporation generated $175 billion in revenue from search and related ads. Meanwhile, the late-2022 debut of OpenAI's ChatGPT changed everything. Google realized it was already losing a race that OpenAI had unexpectedly begun to win, while discontent with the core Google Search product remains as high as it has ever been.

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