A search engine war is on

A search engine war is on

Google may have taken a couple of false steps on the way to get here but what comes next is almost guaranteed to be a search game changer

Ever since Microsoft’s search engine Bing incorporated OpenAI’s generative artificial intelligence (GenAI)chatbot, ChatGPT into it, the world has been expecting the mother of all search wars between Google and Microsoft. But as things stand today, Google, despite its GenAI offering Bard disappointing debut, continues to dominate and overwhelm the search business.

Source: www.bing.com

According to the latest set of data from Statista, Google enjoys an 84% market share in the desktop search engine race and the lead extends to 95% in the mobile market. Bing puts up an admirable fight with a nearly 9% market share in the PC space, but it doesn’t even break past the 1% market share mark on mobile.

Google commands 90% search market

Google may be behind in a race that now includes OpenAI’s ChatGPT and the GPT-4 LLM behind it and Bing AI, but no one is counting out Google. First of all, Google still owns roughly 90% of all search engine traffic (and all the ad dollars that come with it). Second, its parent company Alphabet has not one but two AI groups (Google Brain and DeepMind) now combing research efforts.

Put all that together with what is without question the best knowledge graph in the world and upstarts like Bing and ChatGPT should be nervous.Google may have taken a couple of false steps on the way to get here but what comes next is almost guaranteed to be a search game changer. The question is can Google control the urge to fight now when it’s perhaps not quite ready or will it tease us at Google I/O and then, some months later, release its most striking search engine update ever?

Google waiting to unleash its new weapon

In an interview to The Wall St. Journal, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai offered the clearest picture yet of Google’s chatbot plans for its popular search engine. Granted, they’re not detailed and there is no timeline for this integration but at least we now know Google is serious about bringing this nascent large language model (LLM) together with the awesome power of its Google Knowledge Graph.

Here’s Pichai’s quote: “Will people be able to ask questions to Google and engage with LLMs in the context of search? Absolutely.”The idea here is to still search as you do every day by asking Google everything from a single word to a full sentence query and, after that first response, engage with a Google Chat AI – maybeBard or something like Bard – ina conversational back-and-forth to find your answer.

Pichai told The Wall St. Journal that Google is already testing products that work just like this.While Pichai doesn’t offer timelines, it’s safe to assume that Google will at least dip its toe into the search/chat AI mashup waters during its Google I/O 2023 annual developer conference keynote on May 10. One doesn’t see how Google can hold its biggest and most forward-looking event of the year without offering at least a hint of what’s in store for Google Search users.Seriously, what choice does Google have after being all but embarrassed by Microsoft and Bing AI, and on its own Search home court?

Ultimately, Google must show something related to AI chat-enhanced search at I/O, if only to remind everyone watching that they are still very much in this game and, yes, should be feared. Despite the long road ahead, Microsoft remains committed to Bing and it’s not hard to see why. The company expects $2 billion in additional revenue each time Bing increases its market share by a single percentage point. And even with Bing’s currently minuscule presence, its ads division brings in roughly $18 billion in yearly revenue.

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