Browser and search race is hot again
The emergence of AI systems capable of answering questions directly by text, most notably OpenAI’s ChatGPT, has rekindled a battle that ended more than a decade ago, when Google defeated Microsoft stepped onto the throne of browsing and Internet search.
With the forerunner of OpenAI, the company in which Microsoft invested tens of billions of dollars not long ago, the Windows manufacturer has just launched the first blow. The Bing search engine and the disgraced browser (compared to Chrome) Edge have been powered by AI technology. Meanwhile, Google is in a defensive position and is somewhat more passive than its competitors. They have been quietly developing the LaMDA project and the AI-based Bard conversation service, but there is no exact product launch milestone yet.
The heat of this field not only comes from “veteran players”, but is also ignited by startups ready to go all out for the purpose of usurping the largest online market of the Internet era. They bet the tastes of young people will make it easier to topple Google.
“To young people, Google search results pages seem cluttered and filled with ads,” said Greg Sterling, a search market analyst since 1999. “People are ready for things that are new, simple, reliable, and don’t have a lot of ads in them.”
In essence, systems like ChatGPT based on the big language model can “understand” complex queries and generate written responses, not a direct alternative to search. The information used to train ChatGPT is at least 1 year old and its responses are limited to historical data rather than multiple targeted documents from websites that respond to specific queries.
That leads to a race to combine AI and traditional search techniques, aka query enhancement generation, which first identifies the pages with the most relevant documents, and then uses the process to process them. natural language to “read” data. The results are fed into a large language model, such as OpenAI’s GPT-3, and give a more accurate answer.
Google’s throne shakes
The breakthrough of AI opens up a rare opportunity that Google’s competitors believe can create a new, different search service, instead of beating the giant in its own game to create a new search service. go out.
“Everybody, including us, is trying to beat them (Google) by assembling better links”said Sridhar Ramaswamy, a former Google executive and co-founder of search startup Neeva.
The company has begun inserting short text answers into its search results pages. And to limit the inherent weakness that sometimes produces incorrect results of large language models, Neeva included a citation in the text answer, representing the source of the retrieved data.
Meanwhile, some companies choose to be more “radical”, they remove the search results pages and provide users with a pure chat interface similar to ChatGPT.
Microsoft allows users to switch between the chat interface and the traditional search results page with Bing. You.com, another search startup, also offers a similar solution with a “chat” button so users can switch to the new version.
Angela Hoover, co-founder of search startup Andi, says the pure chat service is appealing to young people who want a completely different experience.
“GenZ turns their attention to TikTok because they crave new things,” she said. “They want accurate answers, presented visually in a conversational way.”
Aravind Srinivas, co-founder of Perplexity AI, said that switching from the search interface to chat will create a more useful and different service. “It’s basically like a version of Wikipedia that enhances and transcends the concepts of search engines.”
Open up a new way to make money
On the other hand, the integration of search engines with AI could mean economic changes for websites. For example, publishers that rely on traffic generated by search engines may face a drop in traffic because Internet users now find answers without having to click on the results page. .
Meanwhile, search engines will also consume more resources to generate full text answers. This activity affects the revenue of companies. Srinivas estimates an AI-related search can cost 7-8 times more than a traditional query. This cost is only offset if “the value of each query is higher”.
In the case of Microsoft, the integration of AI into Bing and Edge is most likely being “compensated” to regain market share from Google. Reducing margins for all becomes one card in the Windows manufacturing giant’s broader strategy. In other words, the corporation aims to undermine one of its rivals’ business pillars.
Most search startups hope to avoid relying on advertising revenue to set themselves apart from Google.
Startup Andi plans to use a paid “Premium” model with some users wishing to use higher quality services. “We believe that advertising is one of the things that ruins Google search,” Hoover said.
However, no company has “stoned the way” about whether users are willing to pay for the queries they are getting for free. Srinivas said that the founders of Google once commented that the business model based on advertising was a mistake for the search engine.