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Google Considering Making Users Pay for AI Search Results

Search for Profit

Amid a greater industry struggle to successfully monetize AI tech — thus turning billions of dollars of investment into profit — Google is reportedly looking to start charging users to use its AI-powered search results.

As the Financial Times reports, the company is considering putting premium AI search services behind a subscription paywall — potentially the first time Google has ever charged for any of its core products.

For over two decades, Google has supported its search engine products with ad revenue. But AI is expensive to train and operate, forcing tech leaders to reconsider how to generate profits admit all the hype surrounding the tech.

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It's a pressing matter for Google, which has already lagged behind the competition, including OpenAI and Microsoft, when it comes to the implementation of AI chatbots.

Hitting the Paywall

The company is already charging a monthly fee for access to some of its more advanced AI tools, like Gemini for "Premium" and "Business." A more stripped-down base model of the AI is available free of charge.

According to the FT's reporting, Google is looking to enhance its new Gemini AI assistant in core products like Gmail and Docs with AI-powered search.

While making conventional Google searches would remain free, even paying subscribers would still see ads continuing to appear alongside AI-enhanced search results, per the FT.

The tech giant has been experimenting with enhancing its core search product with AI, releasing an experimental version of its "Search Generative Experience" to a limited number of users last year.

But even a year on, the tool still spits out confusing and often incorrect answers, worrying experts over a potential deluge of misinformation being fed to Google's billions of users worldwide.

By pivoting from ad revenues to charging users subscription services, analysts are worried Google's bottom line could suffer. By stopping users from clicking through, the already ailing news industry could be hit hard as well.

Meanwhile, Google told the FT in a statement that the company has been "seeing positive Search query growth in all of our major markets."

Whether we'll ever see the company start charging for enhanced search results remains to be seen. But if we were, it'd mark a considerable shift in Google's winning 25-year-old formula.

More on Google: CEO of Google DeepMind Says AI Industry Full of Hype and Grifters