Microsoft is reportedly interested in bidding for a contract with Mozilla to make Bing the default search engine on Firefox, replacing Google. According to The Information, senior Microsoft executives are keen on striking a deal with Mozilla this year, as the current contract with Google is set to expire by the end of 2023.
It is worth noting that this possibility is not solely down to Microsoft's push with AI search via Bing Chat. In September 2021, Mozilla was already testing how Bing would work as the default browser in Firefox.
Firefox is a web browser developed by Mozilla, with a market share of about 2.77% according to StatCounter. Currently, Google pays Mozilla about $450 million per year as part of a three-year deal that expires in 2023 to be the default search engine on Firefox, which accounts for most of Mozilla's revenue. However, Google also competes with Firefox with its own Chrome browser, which dominates the market with a share of over 65%.
Microsoft is another competitor in the browser market, with its Edge browser that has a share of about 4.96%. Microsoft also owns Bing, a search engine that has a global market share of about 2.8%, while Google has over 92%.
Microsoft has been investing in improving Bing's features and performance, especially in the areas of artificial intelligence and chatbots. Bing recently reached 100 million active users in March 2023, thanks to its integration with OpenAI's ChatGPT features alongside Microsoft's own AI.
Microsoft and Google Battling Across Search with AI
Microsoft has recently launched Bing Chat, a new feature that allows users to interact with an AI-powered chatbot in the Edge browser sidebar. Bing Chat can answer complex questions, summarize information, generate images and videos, and provide context for web pages. Bing Chat is powered by GPT-4, a deep learning model that can generate natural language responses based on user input.
Google, on the other hand, has been struggling to keep up with Microsoft's AI innovation. Google announced Bard, its own AI chatbot for search, but it was widely seen as a rushed and flawed response to Bing Chat. Bard failed to impress during its demo and received negative feedback from Google employees and users. Google CEO Sundar Pichai admitted that Bard was a prototype and that the company needed more time to develop its AI capabilities.
This is the first time in over two decades that Google is facing a serious challenge in the search market. Google still dominates the global search share with over 90%, but Microsoft has seen a significant increase in Bing usage since the launch of Bing Chat. Microsoft is also planning to add more features and integrations to Bing Chat, such as image recognition, third-party plugins, and mobile support. It is clear that Microsoft is leading the way in AI-powered search and that Google needs to catch up or risk losing its relevance.
Earlier this week, I reported on Google working on integrating large language model (LLC) AI into its dominant Search engine.