Google drops a new chatbot

Now that Google and the federal government have squashed their beef over paying news publishers, the search giant is giving Canadians access to its shiny new chatbot. 

What happened: After snubbing Canada on the initial rollout of its first chatbot, Bard, Google will offer its improved and renamed AI chatbot, Gemini, to Canada. The new AI model marks Google’s latest play to keep pace with rivals OpenAI and Microsoft.

  • Google will offer both a free and a paid version of the chatbot, which gives users access to the company’s most powerful AI model for a monthly subscription fee of $26.99.

  • The premium tier will compete with OpenAI’s ChatGPT Plus, as the industry starts to push subscriptions as a way to make their (expensive) AI creations more profitable. 

Why it matters: Chatbots already offer a similar service as search engines, and as they continue to improve, the free Google search engine that’s become synonymous with daily life could become a less appealing option for users who will pay for a better experience. 

  • Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai told WIRED that the company is experimenting with the idea of a product that lets users access information without a search engine. 

Bottom line: With paid subscriptions for chatbots looking like they could become the new norm, consumers may be adding yet another subscription to their monthly budgets.—LA