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While it may sound intriguing, there are a number of “buts” around the news, first reported by The Information, that Microsoft is planning to add OpenAI’s generative AI-powered ChatGPT to its Bing search engine rather than just showing link results.
The new feature, with an eye toward more full-sentence answers to queries, could reportedly launch by the end of March.
Google still fields vast majority of search queries
First of all, Google retained an 83% share of the search market in 2022, while Bing can only boast 9% of search volume. While Microsoft may certainly wish to challenge Google, it seems unlikely that ChatGPT would make a big dent.
In addition, the current revenue model for search rests on link results, so there are questions as to how Bing would monetize its ChatGPT function.
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But digital marketing expert Tim Peter pointed out on Twitter that Microsoft’s advantage is that they can subsidize the cost of ChatGPT in Bing via their other revenue streams. “Google makes essentially all its money from ads,” he tweeted. “Without that ad revenue, they’re a much less valuable company.”
Google also leads in LLM innovation
Still, he added that Google is “not communicating this well to shareholders and the market and being overly cautious here.”
ChatGPT reportedly Google’s ‘code red’
Google was already under pressure in mid-December, when CNBC reported that employees raised concerns at a recent all-hands meeting that the company was losing its competitive edge in artificial intelligence (AI) given ChatGPT’s quick rise.
And the New York Times reported a few days later that ChatGPT is considered a “code red” for Google’s search business.
For Microsoft, the plans to add ChatGPT to Bing certainly shows that its 2019 $1 billion investment in OpenAI is paying off.
ChatGPT struggling with trust issues
But it is worth reiterating that none of this search drama addresses the hidden danger that literally underlies ChatGPT: that its results cannot be fully trusted for search queries.
In December, even OpenAI CEO Sam Altman was forced to admit ChatGPT’s risks.
“ChatGPT is incredibly limited, but good enough at some things to create a misleading impression of greatness,” he tweeted. “It’s a mistake to be relying on it for anything important right now. It’s a preview of progress; we have lots of work to do on robustness and truthfulness.”
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