Satya Nadella’s invitation to Google for a dance is likely to turn into a canceled party: The Microsoft CEO now calls it “exuberance” when he set out to take on Google with Bing Chat earlier this year.
In early February 2023, in a memorable and much-quoted interview with The Verge, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella set out to proclaim a new Internet age. Using OpenAI’s ChatGPT technology, the Microsoft CEO wanted to “make Google dance.” Chatbot conversations instead of Google links would reshape the Internet. The result would have been a new Internet ecosystem, in addition to Microsoft making a lot of money by taking huge chunks of Google’s search business.
Nadella speaks of AI exuberance
About half a year later, the discussion about chatbots as a replacement for Internet search is not dead, but it has cooled down. Google itself has developed what is probably the most interesting approach to AI content in search with Search Generative Experience, Microsoft has not gained market share with Bing Chat despite free access to GPT-4, and ChatGPT’s browsing is not ideal for Internet search because it is still inaccurate and slow, besides being hampered by copyright issues.
Nadella is now taking a much softer tone in the antitrust case against Google. The Microsoft CEO told the judge that Google is so deeply entrenched in users’ habits that Microsoft is trapped in a vicious cycle and there is no real choice in search engines. The only real option, he said, is to change the default settings.
The judge specifically asked Nadella about AI innovations that could weaken Google’s market position. Nadella responded that despite his enthusiasm for AI in search, Google’s visibility advantage would remain in that scenario. AI could also validate existing standards and further strengthen Google’s market position, he added.
Nadella described his optimistic performance earlier this year as “exuberance,” with the prospect of perhaps turning three percent market share into 3.5 percent.
Of course, there are strategic reasons for Nadella’s statements: If he walks into court with his chest out, touting Bing Chat as the next search revolution, it would strengthen Google’s position in the lawsuit. That would hardly be in Nadella’s interest.