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Google is Thinking of Erecting a Paywall on One of its Well-Liked Features

The new premium features that Google (GOOG) is testing as part of its AI-powered Search Generative Experience (SGE) may be protected by a paywall, according to a report.

If it goes through, Google would be the first company to paywalled a significant piece of its operations.

According to three unidentified individuals cited by FT, Google is considering a number of possibilities, including enhancing its premium subscription with AI-powered search capabilities. Currently, the subscription grants access to Google’s Gemini chatbot within the Google app suite. The Google One membership is $20 a month.

According to the article, executives at Google are still undecided on whether or not to launch the service, but the company’s engineers are working on developing the technology required to support such a move.

According to the claim, customers would still be able to access Google’s classic search engine for free. Even as the use of AI techniques has increased, Google has managed to hold a 90% (or greater) share of the global search industry.

In 2023, Google’s search advertising division brought in $175 billion, or about half of the company’s overall income.

Both analysts and publishers have expressed concern over the possibility that a generative AI search experience may upend that revenue paradigm.

According to a recent analysis by the ad-sales business Raptive, SGE may result in traffic decreases for digital publishers of 20% to 60%.

Meanwhile, analysts are concerned that Google may experience a decline in income.

“We acknowledge the near-term uncertainty associated with a broader [Search Generative Experience] rollout but have increasing conviction that over the longer term SGE will provide ample monetization opportunity on par with, or potentially above, traditional Google search,” Wedbush’s Dan Ives stated last month.

Google stated, “For years, we’ve been reinventing Search to help people access information in the way that’s most natural to them,” “With our generative AI experiments in Search, we’ve already served billions of queries, and we’re seeing positive Search query growth in all of our major markets. We’re continuing to rapidly improve the product to serve new user needs.”

According to the corporation, Google is not currently planning any announcements.

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