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Google Considers Changing Business Model, AI Search May Require Fees

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Google

Products like ChatGPT, which can provide quick and comprehensive answers to questions, may render traditional search engine link lists and accompanying ads redundant.

Google is considering charging for artificial intelligence search, which could be a major change in Google’s business model.

According to the Financial Times on April 4th, Google is considering charging for new advanced features driven by generative artificial intelligence, which would be the biggest change in Google’s search business ever. For years, Google has provided consumer services completely funded by advertising, and the proposed reform of its search engine will mark the first time Google has put its core products behind a “paywall.”

According to three people familiar with Google’s plans, options Google is considering include adding certain artificial intelligence search features to premium subscription services. One insider said engineers are developing the technology needed to deploy this service, but company executives have not made a final decision on whether or when to launch the service.

Google’s traditional search engine will remain free, and ads will continue to appear alongside search results, even for subscription users.

Last year, Google’s revenue from search and related advertising was $175 billion. However, Google also faces a tricky issue of how to maintain its biggest profit driver while embracing artificial intelligence innovation. Products like ChatGPT can provide quick and complete answers to questions, which may render traditional search engine link lists and accompanying ads redundant.

According to Latest report, in May of last year, Google began testing an experimental AI search service that provides users with more detailed query answers while continuing to provide users with more information and links to ads. However, progress on adding the features of this “search generation experience” to its main search engine has been slow. Since generative AI consumes more computational resources, this type of search is more expensive than traditional search.

According to The Guardian, it is also because of the high cost of artificial intelligence services that Google may be shifting to a subscription model. “The computational cost of AI search is higher than Google’s traditional search process. Therefore, by charging for AI search, Google will seek to at least recoup these costs,” said Heather Dawe, Chief Data Scientist at digital transformation consultancy UST.

Some analysts also suggest that if Google’s search engine provides more complete AI-generated answers, users may no longer need to click through to the websites of its advertising clients, which could impact Google’s advertising business. Online publishers that rely on Google for internet traffic are also concerned that if Google’s AI search extracts information from their web pages and presents it directly to users, the number of users visiting their websites will decrease. According to the Financial Times, Google said it is “not committed to or considering” an ad-free search experience, but will “continue to build new premium features and services to enhance Google’s subscription offerings,” adding that “we have no news to announce at this time.”

In fact, Google’s competitors in the field of AI search are also offering similar subscription plans. The AI search engine Perplexity has no ads but offers a “professional” package for $20 per month, allowing users unlimited use of AI models. Microsoft Bing’s AI features can be used for free but require integration with Microsoft’s Edge browser. Browsing and search startup Arc offers its products to users for free and plans to charge enterprise fees for commercial features in the future.

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