Google plans to charge for AI-powered search engine


Alphabet’s Google is considering charging for premium features on its generative AI-powered search engine, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the plan.

The tech giant is looking at various options, including incorporating AI-powered search features into its premium subscription services, which already provide access to its new Gemini AI assistant in Gmail and Docs.

Alphabet’s shares dipped about 1% in extended trade.

The move would mark Google’s first time putting any of its core products behind a paywall, as it seeks to gain ground in the fast-moving AI space. Its traditional search engine would remain free of charge and ads would continue to appear alongside search results even for subscribers, the report added.

“We’re not working on or considering an ad-free search experience. As we’ve done many times before, we’ll continue to build new premium capabilities and services to enhance our subscription offerings across Google,” the company told Reuters in an emailed statement.

Google, which invented the foundational technology for today’s AI boom, is also locked in battle with two industry players that have captured the business world’s attention – ChatGPT’s creator OpenAI, and its backer Microsoft.