You may have to pay for AI-powered features on Google’s search engine soon; here’s why

A paid subscription plan would be a first for the advertisement-funded search engine

You may have to pay for AI-powered features on Google’s search engine soon; here’s why

The Google search engine has consistently been a saviour for students, professionals, and homemakers the world over since its inception, whether on laptops, desktops or smartphones.

While the service has always been free, Google is planning to introduce a paid subscription to the service. Why, exactly? It’s so that users can harness the full potential of Gemini AI for their searches, and get results more personalised and accurate than ever. Read on to know more.

Google, for its search engine, primarily relies on advertising for monetisation. While the company has paid products such as the Google One subscription, which offers increased storage space for Google Drive, and not to mention, access to Gemini Pro across the Google Suite, Google search has always been a free service for users.

ALSO READ: Google Bard gets Gemini Pro update, image-generation capabilities

However, with the recent integration of AI features into the former, the company might just introduce a paid subscription for the same. Details on the pricing, or when the plans will be introduced though, remain unknown as of yet. Now, coming to the question of why it could be doing something like this.

Well, the answer is simply that generating AI-enhanced search results requires significantly more computing power in general, which ultimately could cost the company exponentially more in the long run. A Reuters report from last year suggests that the increase could be nearly ten times the current number.

Other companies with paid subscription plans for AI features

Contrary to what one may believe, Google wouldn’t be the first to charge users for enhanced AI features. For example, OpenAI charges users $20 (Approximately Rs 1,700) and $25 (Approximately Rs 2,100) per month for access to ChaptGPT Plus and ChatGPT Team, which offers access to GPT-4 to multiple users, and even a DALL-E 3 integration for image generation. Similarly, there’s also a “Pro” subscription to Microsoft’s Copilot, which costs Rs 2,000 per user per month and provides users with access to GPT-4 Turbo, and Copilot integration across Microsoft’s Office suite.

Although ChatGPT and Copilot aren’t search engines per se, they still can scour the internet for answers to users’ queries and provide them with results tailored to their preferences.

ALSO READ: Google Bard is now called Gemini; now available with Gemini Ultra

Interestingly, even Galaxy AI, which is available on several Samsung devices including the Galaxy S24 series and S23 series of smartphones, as well as the Galaxy Tab S9 series, is free only until 2025. Post this, most of its features will be locked behind a paywall.

Bear in mind that Google’s plan for a paid subscription service for its search engine is only a matter of speculation for now. There’s been no confirmation on this from the company as of yet. Moreover, fret not. Google’s standard search engine will continue to remain a free service for the foreseeable future.

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