In the wake of the recent ChatGPT excitement, headlines are now predicting that Google's search engine business will collapse from pressures by generative AI within two years. Those predictions are premature. I do believe people will increasingly rely on AI in the search for knowledge -- but when searching for products and services, Google and their paid ad business will remain the go-to tool for the foreseeable future. 

Where it gets interesting is where the search for product and knowledge meet. I define knowledge broadly to also include social content and engagement but not entertainment content. Currently, that space is occupied by vertical content networks, social media networks, the SEO industry as well as the news and media industries. The news and media industries, however, are struggling to get their heads around the fact that monetizing pure news content via subscriptions or ads is a rapidly shrinking business model. One must monetize correspondent user data in order to be relevant.   

But getting back to the impact on SEARCH, Google's search engine has already fallen behind as it relates to search for knowledge but it should remain the leader as it relates to search for products or services. Let's looks at a couple comparisons: 

Search for knowledge:

How can AI be used as a substitute for search engines? 

According to Google:

According to ChatGPT:

AI can be used as a substitute for search engines by utilizing natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning algorithms to understand and interpret user queries, and then retrieve and rank the most relevant information from a large database. This process can be more efficient and accurate than traditional search engines, as AI systems can understand the context and intent behind a user's query, and provide personalized results based on the user's history and preferences. Additionally, AI-powered search engines can provide a more conversational experience, allowing users to interact with the system through natural language rather than just keywords.

My verdict: ChatGPT (AI) wins!

Now let's look at product oriented search and see the comparison. 

Search for Product / Services:

Where can i buy an amazon gift card?

According to Google:

According to ChatGPT (AI):

You can buy Amazon gift cards at a number of physical retail stores, including Walmart, Target, and Best Buy. You can also buy them online at Amazon's website, as well as other websites such as PayPal and Additionally, some grocery stores and convenience stores also sell Amazon gift cards.

My verdict: Google wins!

With Google getting 81% of their revenue from ad related businesses and a ton of infrastructure to support that, I can't see them conceding that market anytime soon. They also have a huge amount of free cash flow to deploy their various generative AI tools (or create new ones) to emerge as a leader in producing knowledge content that people will want to consume. However, they aren't alone and where it gets interesting -- and potentially competitive -- is where emerging companies start producing the tools and infrastructure that allow others to be creators (or knowledge curators) and to monetize (/revenue, ownership) these new forms of content, commerce, and engagement into networks of distribution that can be searched and monetized without a reliance on Google's one-stop search engine shop.  


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