Google eyes ‘premium’ AI features to revamp business model

Google is considering implementing paid “premium” features that leverage generative AI to enhance its search engine, according to a report by The Financial Times. These premium capabilities would be part of Google’s existing suite of subscription services, which already include access to AI innovations like the Gemini AI assistant. While Google’s traditional search functionalities will remain free with accompanying advertisements, the potential introduction of paid features signifies a departure from the company’s historically free consumer services model. Google aims to develop new premium capabilities and services to enhance its subscription offerings while reinventing search to meet evolving user needs through generative AI. The challenge lies in adopting advanced AI innovations without jeopardizing its lucrative ad revenue, which generated $175 billion in 2023. Google had launched an experimental AI-powered search service, called Search Generative Experience (SGE), in response to potential disruption from AI technologies. However, integrating SGE features into the main search engine has been slow due to the increased computing resources required. Currently, SGE access is limited to select Google One subscribers. As Google’s AI services develop, the company will face competition from OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Bing AI, both of which offer a combination of free and premium access to content.