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Axios reports that Microsoft yesterday laid out its plans to "add a more powerful version of the AI engine behind ChatGPT to both Bing and the Edge web browser.  Microsoft says it has tuned OpenAI's latest engine for search, and is using internally developed AI tools to improve standard Bing results."

The calculus works this way - half of 210 billion daily search queries are going unanswered, and Microsoft believes that a version of ChatGPT can answer the other half, making its Bing search engine - which few people use, compared to Google - a stronger and revitalized competitor.  There's a lot of money at stake - Axios cites one estimate that "for every 1% of search market share Microsoft takes, $2 billion in annual ad dollars flow the company's way."

Axios notes that Microsoft is improving on ChatGPT by "offering citations with its answers, allowing people to fact-check the AI-powered answers they receive. That could also make the shift in search results more palatable to the publishers whose information Bing is relying on."

KC's View:

I cannot even remember the last time I went on Bing, but when I went on this morning, this is what I found - it actually looks kind of cool, and it will be interesting to see how adding ChatGPT technology will improve the experience.

Two things here.

First, I think there is enormous potential here for retailers, who could use the technology as a sales and education tool in their stores.  Imagine being in the produce department, having a question, and being able to use this tech to ask questions about nutrition, recipes and the like.  To be clear, consumers won't need retailers to do this since the vast majority have smartphones.  But retailers would be wise to figure out ways to be part of the process, adding to the value of the retail or online experience.

Second, this isn't all happening in a vacuum.  One has to imagine that Apple and Amazon and Meta and Google all are developing their own versions of ChatGPT, which could create a kind of space race as these companies look to accumulate market share in this segment.  All of which will give consumers and retailers more tools, as well as creating an environment in which business transparency will be at a premium - you won't be able to hide your decisions, motivations and actions.

Tech seems to be a bit of a doldrums right now, but I think that developments like these have the potential to light a new kind of fire of enthusiasm and innovation. Retailers need to figure out how to engaged in the conversation.