Google employees were shocked to learn in March that South Korean consumer electronics giant Samsung was considering replacing Google with Microsoft’s Bing as the default search engine on its devices.
For years, Bing has been a search engine underdog. But when it recently added new artificial intelligence technology, it became even more interesting for those in the industry.
Google’s response to Samsung’s threat was “panic,” according to an internal source reviewed by The New York Times. Contracts with Samsung have an estimated $3 billion in annual revenue at stake. Another $20 billion is tied to a similar contract with Apple, which is set to be renewed this year.
AI rivals like the new Bing are fast becoming the most serious threat to Google’s search business in 25 years, and in response, Google is racing to build an entirely new search engine powered by the technology. It is also upgrading existing artificial intelligence capabilities, according to internal documents seen by The Times.
The new features, called Magi, are created by designers, engineers and managers working in so-called sprint rooms to tweak and test the latest releases. The new search engine will provide users with a more personalized experience than the company’s current service, trying to anticipate users’ needs.
“Not every brainstorming platform or product idea leads to a launch, but as we’ve said before, we’re excited to bring new artificial intelligence to Search,” Google spokeswoman Lara Levin said in a statement. Smart features and will share more details soon.”
Billions of people use Google’s search engine every day for everything from finding restaurants and directions to learning about medical diagnoses, and simple white pages with company logos and blank columns in the middle are among the most widely used in the world. Changes to it can have such a major impact on the lives of ordinary people that until recently it was hard to imagine anything challenging it.
A new generation of chatbots
A brave new world. A new crop of chatbots powered by artificial intelligence has sparked a debate over whether the technology can upend the internet’s economy, rendering today’s powerhouses obsolete and creating the industry’s next giants. Here’s what to know about bots:
Google has been concerned about AI rivals since OpenAI, a San Francisco startup partnered with Microsoft, demonstrated a chatbot called ChatGPT in November. About two weeks later, Google formed a working group within its search division to begin developing artificial intelligence products, two people familiar with the matter said they were not authorized to discuss the work publicly.
Modernizing its search engine has become a major headache for Google, a planned change that could bring new AI technology to phones and homes around the world.
The Samsung threat represents the first potential crack in Google’s seemingly indestructible search business, which was worth $162 billion last year. While it’s not clear whether Microsoft’s work on artificial intelligence is the main reason Samsung is considering a change after the past 12 years, that’s an assumption within Google. Contracts are being negotiated, and Samsung may stick with Google.
But Samsung, which produces hundreds of millions of smartphones a year powered by Google’s Android software, would even consider changing its search engine, much to the consternation of Google’s employees.
After some employees learned that the company was looking for volunteers this month to help put together pitch materials for Samsung, their reactions were emojis and surprises. “Wow, well this is crazy,” one person responded.
A Google spokesman said the company is constantly improving its search engine to give partners more reasons to choose Google, and that Android phone makers are free to adopt technology from different companies to improve the user experience.
Samsung and Microsoft declined to comment.
Google has been doing AI research for years. Its DeepMind lab in London is considered one of the world’s best centers for AI research, and the company has been a pioneer in AI projects such as self-driving cars and the so-called large language models used to develop AI. chatbot. In recent years, Google has used large language models to improve the quality of its search results, but has held off on fully adopting AI because it is prone to errors and biased statements.
The priority now is to win control of the industry’s next big thing. Last month, Google released its own chatbot, Bard, to mixed reviews for the technology.
The plans for the new search engine show Google’s ambitions to reimagine the search experience, but it’s still early days and there’s no clear timetable for when the new search technology will be released.
The system learns what users want to know based on what they search for when they start using it. It also provides a list of preselected options, research information, and other information about who to buy. It’ll also be more chatty — kind of like talking to someone who’s helpful.
But long before rebuilding the search engine, the Magi project will add feature According to internal documents, the existing search engine. More than 160 people at Google work on the work full-time, a person familiar with the matter said.
Magi will keep advertisements in combination with search results. Search queries that could lead to a financial transaction, such as buying shoes or booking a flight, will still show ads on their results pages.
That’s important for Google because search ads are the main way it makes money. Its chatbot, Bard, has no ads, and the tech industry has been anticipating that AI answers on search engines could make ads less relevant to users.
The planned search addition can also answer questions about software coding and write code based on user requests. Google may place ads beneath computer code answers, according to a document.
Last week, Google invited some employees to test Magi’s capabilities and encouraged them to ask the search engine follow-up questions to judge its ability to hold conversations. Google is expected to release the tools to the public next month and add more features in the fall, according to planning documents.
The company plans to initially release the features to up to 1 million people. That number should gradually increase to 30 million by the end of the year. These features will only be available in the US.
Google is also exploring letting people use Google Earth’s mapping technology with the help of artificial intelligence and search for music through conversations with chatbots, a Google executive wrote in a document.
Other product ideas are in various stages of development. A tool called GIFI will use AI to generate images in Google Image results. Another tool, Tivoli Tutor, will teach users a new language through open AI text conversations.
Another product, Searchalong, lets users ask chatbots questions while surfing the web through Google’s Chrome browser. For example, people might ask a chatbot what to do near an Airbnb rental, and the AI scans the page and the rest of the internet for a response.
Former Google sales and services vice president Jim Lecinski said the company had taken action and now had to convince users it was as “powerful, capable and modern” as its competitors.
“If we’re the leading search engine, and it’s a new attribute, a new capability, a new feature of a search engine, we want to make sure we’re also in the race,” said Mr. Lecinski, a professor of marketing. In an interview at Northwestern University.
Wakabayashi Daisuke, Karen Weiser and trip mickle Contribution report.