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14 July, 2024
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FT: Google explores charging for AI search enhancements

Tech giant mulls premium features amid threats to traditional search landscape


Google is contemplating charging for new "premium" features powered by generative artificial intelligence (AI) in its search business, marking a significant shift. The proposed revamp, aimed at its search engine, would be the first time the tech giant has put any of its core products behind a paywall.

According to sources familiar with the matter, Google is exploring options to integrate AI-powered search features into its premium subscription services, which already offer access to its Gemini AI assistant in Gmail and Docs. However, no final decision has been made on whether or when to launch the service, as engineers are still developing the necessary technology.

While Google's traditional search engine would remain free, subscribers might gain access to enhanced AI capabilities. This potential move comes amid increased competition from OpenAI's ChatGPT, which poses a threat to traditional search engines with its ability to provide comprehensive answers.

Google's experiments with AI-powered search began in 2022 but have been slow to integrate into its main search engine. Concerns have been raised about the potential impact on Google's advertising business if AI-generated answers reduce the need for users to click on ads or visit publisher websites.

While Google has added premium tiers to its Google One subscription service for access to advanced AI features, it remains unclear how AI-powered search would be integrated into existing paid services or when it would be available. Google stated that it was "not working on or considering" an ad-free search experience but would continue to enhance its subscription offerings with new premium capabilities and services.


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