Google is taking on Microsoft’s Bing Chat AI by revamping its search engine to include AI chat and video clips, along with social media posts, making the search experience more “visual, snackable, personal, and human,” reports the Wall Street Journal. This major shift moves away from the traditional format of “10 blue links” that has long defined Google search results and signifies a battle to lead the change in consumer behavior around internet search.
The updates come as a response to emerging AI chatbots like ChatGPT and short-video apps like TikTok, which have captured the attention of younger users. Google CEO Sundar Pichai expressed the company’s intention to meet users’ high expectations: “We are working to make sure it works well for users—they have a high bar, and we want to meet that bar.”
In an effort to stay relevant and competitive, Google is placing greater emphasis on responding to queries that can’t be easily answered by traditional web results, prompting users to ask follow-up questions and swipe through visuals like TikTok videos.
Google’s search engine has dominated the market for years, handling over 90% of searches on computers and mobile devices. However, recent AI-powered apps have presented fresh challenges to Google’s position as the primary internet portal. Microsoft’s Bing Chat AI and smaller search engines incorporating conversational AI features have prompted Google to speed up work on similar products.
Google’s new AI chatbot Bard, released in March, is more restricted than OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Bing but has also been criticized for getting things wrong. While Google has yet to integrate Bard directly into search, the company is expected to debut new features at its annual I/O developer conference that will allow users to interact with an AI program called “Magi.”
John Battelle, author of “The Search,” a history of Google published in 2005, highlighted the significance of this moment for the company, stating, “It’s a really significant moment for the company, and I think they’re very well aware of it.”
As Google evolves its search engine, it is focusing on delivering high-quality information and supporting a healthy, open web. A Google spokeswoman emphasized the company’s long-term approach, stating, “As search evolves, delivering high-quality information and supporting a healthy, open web will remain core to our approach.”
However, incorporating more user-generated content raises concerns about the spread of false and misleading information. Google plans to refine its definition of “trusted” content and provide attribution and literacy tools to enable users’ confidence in using the content. According to internal company documents, this shift will present Google “with the need to refine our definition of ‘trusted’ content, especially when there is no single right answer.”
This battle between Google and Microsoft to improve search experiences with AI chat and video clips marks a significant moment in the evolution of internet search. Both companies are striving to lead the change in consumer behavior and capitalize on the opportunities presented by AI technology and user-generated content.