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Google to Introduce Paid AI-Powered Search Features

Image Source: Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock

The Financial Times (via Neowin) reports that Google is considering charging users for utilizing AI-enhanced search capabilities.

The integration of AI into search engines is a growing trend. Both Microsoft and Google, owners of major search engines, have incorporated AI functionalities into their platforms.

Microsoft has been a leader in this area, with Bing already hosting various AI search features. Google has also been experimenting with different options for its users.

Google is now exploring a significant change to its search service. Traditionally, users have paid for Google search through sharing their data and seeing ads on the platform.

Although basic Google search remains free, there are talks of charging for certain AI-powered search features. These features are currently being tested in Google Search Labs.

The AI-driven capabilities, available in limited regions, allow users to enhance their searches with add-ons like code suggestions, summaries, or additional information from web pages.

According to the Financial Times, Google is considering incorporating AI-driven features into “premium subscription services.”

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In summary: Basic Google Search will remain free for users not requiring AI enhancements, while those interested in AI-powered features may need to pay a subscription fee in addition to seeing ads and sharing their data.

Google Search Transformation

Introducing a paid add-on for Google Search marks a significant shift. Historically, Google has not charged for its core search service. Google Search has been a key revenue generator for Google, contributing over 50% of its earnings in 2023 and beyond.

In the last quarter, Google Search brought in $48 billion out of the company’s $86 billion revenue, far surpassing the second-highest revenue source, YouTube, which contributed $9 billion. Google Search remains Google’s primary revenue stream.

While this change may not directly impact search revenue, it has the potential to further boost revenue streams.

Why Google Considers Charging for AI-driven Search

The Financial Times report cites the increasing costs of computing as the primary reason for Google considering charging users. AI computations are resource-intensive and costly, prompting Google to explore options to reduce costs or increase revenue.

With the cost of AI computations unlikely to decrease soon, Google is contemplating charging for AI access in search to offset rising operational expenses.

Image Source: Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock

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