Google might make users pay for AI features in search results

Google might start charging for access to search results that use generative artificial intelligence tools. That’s according to a new Financial Times report citing “three people with knowledge of [Google’s] plans.”
Charging for any part of the search engine at the core of its business would be a first for Google, which has funded its search product solely with ads since 2000. But it’s far from the first time Google would charge for AI enhancements in general; the “AI Premium” tier of a Google One subscription costs $10 more per month than a standard “Premium” plan, for instance, while “Gemini Business” adds $20 a month to a standard Google Workspace subscription.Under the proposed plan, Google’s standard search (without AI) would remain free, and subscribers to a paid AI search tier would still see ads alongside their Gemini-powered search results, according to the FT report. But search ads—which brought in a reported $175 billion for Google last year—might not be enough to fully cover the increased costs involved with AI-powered search. A Reuters report from last year suggested that running a search query through an advanced neural network like Gemini “likely costs 10 times more than a standard keyword search,” potentially representing “several billion dollars of extra costs” across Google’s network.

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