Google considers charging users for artificial intelligence feature on its search engine

If the company implements the measure, it will be the first time it will require internet users to pay to use any of its services.

Google is considering charging users for the artificial intelligence feature on its search engine. The proposal would represent a radical change in the business model that the company has used since its origins, as it would be the first time that the company would require internet users to pay to use any of its services.

The plan, revealed by three sources familiar with the matter to Financial Times, would consist of adding certain search functions powered by Gemini, its artificial intelligence, to its premium subscription services. Specifically, they would be added to Google Search (which with this improvement would be renamed Search Generative Experience) as well as to other payment modes such as Google One or Workspace that allow using this new technology in Gmail and Google Docs, among others.

As explained by The Guardian, the new feature, which is being beta tested with selected users, will allow Gemini to respond to queries raised by users with a single response. This would make it even more similar to the conversational style employed by ChatGPT. However, this feature is costly, Heather Dawe, chief data scientist at digital transformation consultancy UST, told the British newspaper:

AI search is more expensive to compute than Google’s traditional search processes. So in charging for AI search Google will be seeking to at least recoup these costs,

Google: 'We don't have anything to announce'

However, Google did not confirm that it is working on this new feature. In a statement sent by the company to the BBC, it assured that it was "not working on or considering an ad-free search experience" although it did not deny that it was working on applying artificial intelligence to its products:

As we've done many times before, we'll continue to build new premium capabilities and services to enhance our subscription offerings across Google. We don't have anything to announce right now.