Google considers charging for AI-powered search features, FT reports – WION

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Google is considering charging for cutting-edge “premium” features supported by artificial intelligence (AI), marking this as a watershed moment, as Google has never before placed any of its core offerings behind a paywall.

Insiders, speaking on condition of anonymity to the Financial Times, disclosed some of Google’s deliberations.

According to them, Google is considering over several options, including bundling AI-powered search functionalities into premium subscription packages.

While the engineers are currently developing this, Google’s executives are yet to provide clarity regarding the plan being materialised.

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Interestingly, even if Google does roll out these premium perks, the search engine will remain still remain free for all along with ads, even for subscribers.

“We’re constantly enhancing our product to cater to evolving user needs. However, an ad-free search experience is not on our radar. Like we’ve done countless times in the past, we’ll continue innovating new premium features and services to enrich our suite of subscription offerings,” a spokesperson from Google said, according to the FT report.

This move may be indicative of the fact that Alphabet still has not figured out how to use the rapidly emerging new technologies without endangering its core advertising business.

Google’s shares slid less than 1 per cent in extended trading after the news broke out.

With the launch of ChatGPT by OpenAI in late 2022, Google has been forced to defend itself against the popular chatbot.

Because ChatGPT can respond to searches in a conversational manner, Google has been compelled to reconsider its customary list of blue links to websites and the profitable advertisements that show up next to them.

Meanwhile, a fresh wave of search businesses has surfaced in recent years.

In order to improve privacy protections or gain access to generative AI search tools, some search engines have attempted to convince users to join up for premium memberships.

Google started developing its own AI-powered search engine last year, which includes links to websites and advertisements along with a tailored, in-depth story.

However, the integration of characteristics from its experimental “search generative experience” into the primary search engine has been slow.

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