Microsoft Raises Prices for Upstart Search Engines that Use ChatGPT-like Solutions, Potentially Hindering AI-Based Search Innovation

When it comes to web searching, Google dominates as leader, and typically receives the blame for a lack of competition in the field. But as budding new search engines try to entice users with ad-free experiences and enhanced privacy protections, Microsoft and Bing are proving problematic. These upstarts have relied on Bing for licensing search results as they added their own unique features, but with the release of Microsoft’s Bing search chatbot—powered by ChatGPT—they are feeling the squeeze. While it rolled out the new Bing chat, the company also raised the standard prices of its search data and made it practically impossible for search underdogs to compete in the AI market against Bing chat and Google’s Bard AI chatbot.

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The new rule implemented by Microsoft raises prices exponentially higher for search engines who employ their own large language models (LLMs), the tech behind AI chatbots, while using Bing search results. This prohibitive hike effectively eliminates competition from upstarts that hope to set their products apart by using LLM-based solutions. Bing has played a significant role in helping startups compete with Google by providing access to its application programming interfaces (APIs) that would inexpensively share search results and suggestions. As the only alternative to Google, financially restricting access could put inhibit new competition in emerging technologies and put some startups out of business.