Why Microsoft’s AI-powered Bing could end Google’s search monopoly  

Why Microsoft’s AI-powered Bing could end Google’s search monopoly  

AI-powered Bing may offer more relevant and personalised search results for users, wooing away a chunk of them from Google’s flagship platform

Are you frustrated over the limitations of ChatGPT, the conversational chatbot which does tasks for you? Microsoft has re-launched its search engine Bing, powered by Open AI’s ChatGPT’s technology, bringing it within the reach of all netizens.

Bing is going to change the way an user is accessing information on the web, said tech blogger Narasimhan, who blogs under the name Cyber Simman and has been tracking the tech space for the last two decades.  “It (Bing) is going to take a share out of the web search market of Google, apart from forcing the market leader (Google) to shirk its reluctance to integrate Artificial Intelligence (AI) with its search engine,” he told The Federal.

Released only to select users who were waitlisted, the numbers are expected to reach millions within a few weeks. The advanced search engine is also expected to change the behaviour of internet users.

Bing’s improved accuracy and relevance of search results could attract users away from Google, said Niharika Rana, senior marketing executive, AdClear, Digital Marketing Agency. “The shift could be more if users feel Bing provides a better experience. Additionally, the integration of Bing with other Microsoft products may also make it more appealing,” she told The Federal.

Google plays the waiting game

Google seems to be preparing for the challenge, but without committing all its AI tools to its popular search engine, considering that Bing at present is still a minnow in the market.

Also read: Can ChatGPT dethrone Google? What Gmail creator says

A market leader in the search engine segment, Google is now playing the waiting game. Since at present it is not looking at diverting funds in linking its search engine with AI, it released Bard (an AI chat service) as a competitor to ChatGPT on February 6. 

But Bard was hit hard within a week after a goof up in its promotional video of the interactive AI tool. The chatbot is said to have provided a wrong answer in a promotional tweet. It said James Webb Space Telescope is the “first to take pictures of ‘exoplanets’,” which many said was wrong. There was an immediate impact. Alphabet, the parent company of Google, lost $100 billion as its share price dropped by 9 per cent, reports said.

Despite such hiccups, Google has long dominated the language model of AI which is now used for its Bard, said Cyber Simman.

“The behemoth had shied away from fully integrating it with its popular search engine as the company was making good money out of Google Ads, selling keywords. What will happen once you integrate AI to your search engine is still a grey area,” he told The Federal. Google is said to have 20 AI tools on the anvil to counter the onslaught of Bing. When and how they would release these tools will be based on the kind of dent Bing makes on Google.

Better personalised search results

It is clear that Microsoft has taken a bold as well as systematic and planned step. Last January, the multinational tech company made its third investment of $10 billion in Open AI, the parent company of ChatGPT. The tie-up has now been formalised with the relaunch of Bing. AI tools till date were restricted to a select club of subscribers. The services are made accessible, bit by bit, for all the web users.

“It is obvious that end users and small businesses will benefit as AI is on their fingertips today,” said Dharaneetharan GD, founder of Social Eagle, a Chennai-based digital and business growth agency.

Also Read: If data is the new oil, Google is monarch, but an uprising is happening

“Many of them won’t have an issue with paying, say, $30, to get AI services. Human-like responses can have an impact on industries and services, including media. Already content-writing positions have seen a slide after the arrival of ChatGPT,” he said.

“Web searches of individual netizens and how they are optimised for business reach are also set to change. AI-powered search engines use machine learning algorithms to understand the context and meaning behind users’ queries,” said Rana of AdClear.

“This will help provide more relevant and personalised search results. This means that traditional SEO tactics, such as keyword stuffing and link building, may become less effective as search engines are better able to understand the content of a webpage and the intent behind a search query. Instead, SEO will likely focus more on creating high-quality, relevant, and useful content that satisfies users’ needs and provides a positive user experience,” she said.

Increased stress on AI-friendly SEO

Dharaneetharan talks in the same line of thought. “Contrary to popular notions, the need for SEO will be more in the near future. Only thing is that our content and SEO have to be AI friendly,” he said.

Bing’s basic strategy is to change the way end users are accessing information on the web, through which they can increase their presence in the search engine market.

Why Google needs to buck up

Cyber Simman talks about frustration among one set of end users of Google. “The market leader (Google) has to shirk its reluctance to integrate AI with its search engine, and the sooner the better. Some of the knowledgeable end users of Google search engine are already frustrated over its filtered searches. You can’t find what you want to on Google. Instead you are given a filtered few, many of them sponsored. Many of the users switch to other search engines like Duckduckgo which offers more privacy and unique findings,” he said.

Google’s dominance has become its own unmaking in search results. The search engine tracks user data and does an analysis through AI tools to give better results. With Google itself reportedly enabling 8.5 billion searches a day worldwide, a common point of the right search across the globe is an issue the behemoth has to live with.

Is Google going the Yahoo way?

Being a market leader weighs you down, even though Google has always tried to re-invent itself. The challenge is starker when it comes to incorporating new technologies or ideas which change the way a company functions and earns. In the late 1990s, Yahoo faced a similar quandary, in the background of a dotcom burst. The market leader diversified into mails, cloud storage, shopping, games etc. but left wide open the space for search engines. Google capitalised on it and the rest is history.

Today, Google has a whopping $76 billion revenue, as per its 2022 Q4 revenue report. While 92 per cent of the searches on the internet are made through Google, only 3.3 per cent of them are done on Bing (as per data till January 2023).

Nadella’s gameplan

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella had declared the company targets reaching $2 billion using AI-powered Bing, which is a conservative target given Google’s mammoth numbers. Yet, Bing with AI in its kitty is considered the first big challenge to Google’s domination in the last two decades. A leader in the Operating Software (OS) segment, with its flagship product Windows, weak in the search engine market Microsoft is eyeing to take a share from Google with its AI powered search engine; a risk a low key player can take.

Also Read: ChatGPT is confronting, but humans have always adapted to new technology

Rana is of the opinion that Bing’s increased use of AI could potentially challenge Google’s dominant position in the online advertising market.

“Bing’s AI-powered search results can potentially ensure higher click-through rates for advertising partners. This, in turn, could make Bing a more attractive platform for advertisers, who may choose to allocate more of their advertising budget to Bing instead of Google Ads,” she said.

ChatGPT paves the way for AI revolution

ChatGPT, which raised much concern over its impact on learning apart from ethical issues, is now the talking point after its integration with Bing. Any new technology would go through the scanner. Some of them, once looked with suspicion in the past, are part of our lives today. AI is not an exception. “What we see in AI today is called layer 1. We have to build much more on it. If used in the right way, chat bots would be more than just replacing repetitive tasks – though taking away some proportion of jobs – but can also help in sectors such as mental wellbeing too. People in distress can interact with chatbots and can feel better, if the AI is trained properly,” said Dharaneetharan.

Microsoft seems to have given a decadal push with its audacious attempt to integrate AI with search engines. Convergence of science and technology has pushed and placed the world where it is today. Bing’s better understanding of users’ queries and providing more personalised and relevant search results hopefully are going to be a welcome change, said Rana.

“As AI continues to improve, the user experience will improve further. It may lead to new and innovative ways of finding information, beyond traditional keyword searches. This could have far-reaching implications that make web searches an even more essential part of our daily lives.”

Also Read: ChatGPT clears US Medical Licensing Exam: Study

Before ChatGPT’s launch, Open AI’s CEO Sam Altman tweeted that AI is an “extremely hyped thing that almost everyone still underestimates the impact of in even the medium-term.” If TikTok took nine months and Instagram two-and-a-half years to reach 100 million users, ChatGPT achieved it in two months. It shows that the machine-learning bots are not the only ones hungry for consumption of data but also end users. ChatGPT has opened its new AI ‘window’ through Microsoft’s Bing. We have to wait and see whether it will be able to further feed on users’ interests and   take on Google.

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