Google Search may no longer be free; This is how searching on Google may change | Tech News

Google Search may no longer be free; This is how searching on Google may change

Google looks at adding paid AI features to its search engine, aims to enhance user experience while maintaining its ad-driven revenue. Will this change affect you?

| Updated on: Apr 04 2024, 12:57 IST
From Google Pixel 8a to Android 15, what to expect at Google I/O 2024
Google search
1/5 Google I/O 2024 time and place: Google has announced that its annual developer conference will kick off on May 14 at 10:30 PM IST or 10:00 AM PT. If last year's trend continues, it is likely to be held at the Shoreline Amphitheater at the Google HQ in Mountain View, California. (Google)
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2/5 1. Artificial intelligence: During this year's conference, artificial intelligence (AI) could yet again take center stage, especially after Google already made several major AI announcements this year including Gemini and Gemma, its families of Large Language Models (LLMs). (Google)
Google search
3/5 2. Google Pixel 8a: Google is also likely to showcase its upcoming affordable smartphone, the Pixel 8a. It will be the latest entry into the Google Pixel 8 series which already has the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. In January, an alleged Pixel 8a retail box was spotted online which hints at a Pixel 8-esque design of the rumoured smartphone. (Representative Image) (Shaurya Tomer/HT Tech)
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4/5 Android 15: The Android 14 rollout began last year and more and more devices are getting it. What does this mean? We could potentially see some Android 15-related unveilings or announcements at Google I/0 2024, especially now that the Preview Phase 1 seems to have kicked off. (Unsplash)
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5/5 Other announcements: Apart from this, Google could also make announcements related to its other services including Gmail, Photos, Maps and Workspace. (Unsplash)
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Google may start charging for advanced AI features in search, potentially reshaping its iconic free service. (AFP)

In a potential shift from its long-standing model, Google, the titan of online search, is reportedly mulling over introducing paid, AI-powered enhancements to its iconic search engine. According to sources cited in a recent Financial Times report via Android Authority, the company is exploring avenues to integrate advanced AI capabilities into its search functionality for a fee.

Insiders familiar with Google's strategies suggest that these premium AI-driven features might be incorporated into existing subscription services such as Gemini Advanced or Google One. Notably, even with the introduction of a premium tier, advertisements are expected to persist, while the basic version of Google Search will remain freely accessible.

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The Challenge of AI Integration

This contemplated overhaul underscores Google's dual objectives: harnessing cutting-edge AI to enrich the search experience while upholding the profitability of its advertising-driven business model. With a colossal $175 billion in search-related ad revenue reported last year, Google faces immense pressure to innovate while safeguarding its financial interests. Moreover, the ascendancy of OpenAI's ChatGPT has ignited a fervent competition for AI supremacy, further propelling Google's quest for technological dominance.

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Testing the Waters with SGE

The inception of Google's AI-powered search service dubbed the Search Generative Experience (SGE), dates back to May of the preceding year. Offering AI-generated summaries and responses alongside traditional search results and advertisements, SGE has been available as an optional feature. However, recent trials have seen Google experimenting with making SGE the default experience for select users. Nonetheless, the integration of SGE features into the primary search engine has been gradual, largely due to the substantial computational resources demanded by generative AI models.

While SGE promises enhanced user experiences, it also poses a formidable challenge to Google's established revenue model. The comprehensive nature of AI-generated responses threatens to reduce user reliance on clicking through to external websites, potentially diminishing ad impressions and endangering Google's principal revenue stream.

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Though Google's engineers are reportedly actively developing this technology, concrete decisions regarding its implementation and a definitive timeline for its launch remain uncertain. As the digital landscape evolves, Google finds itself at a pivotal juncture, navigating the intersection of innovation and profitability in its pursuit of continued relevance in the digital sphere.

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First Published Date: 04 Apr, 12:57 IST